Role of Physiotherapy in treating stroke

Stroke may be defined as the abrupt onset of the neurological disorder that may occur due to some vascular cause. It occurs if an area of brain tissue is deprived of its blood

supply, causing brain cells to lose their supply of oxygen. Without oxygen, brain cells can become irreversibly damaged within minutes. Stroke is mainly caused by disruption of blood flow to the brain as a result of blockage or leakage in a blood vessel. The effects of stroke vary depending on the severity of the blockage or leakage.

Stroke commonly causes an arm , leg weakness, facial weakness and speech problems. This may lead to decreased mobility, balance problems and difficulty in performing everyday tasks. Unlike other cells in the body, if brain cells are irreversibly damaged then they are unable to heal themselves. The brain, however is capable of learning new tasks to compensate for the areas that have been damaged and physiotherapy thus encourages the learning and help the body relearn normal movement patterns.

Types of strokes

Stroke is mainly of two types

a) Ischemic stroke

b) Haemorrhagic stroke

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke is usually caused by a blockage within an artery. This blockage results in decreased blood flow to an area of brain and therefore the brain cells in that area are damaged due to the lack of oxygen.

Haemorrhagic stroke

It is also called as “brain haemorrhage”. This occurs when blood vessels in the brain ruptures causing bleeding into the area of brain. This causes a build up of pressure and damages the delicate tissues of the brain. Blood flow to the neighbouring brain cells also reduced and these cells get damaged due to lack of oxygen and causes stroke.

Common physical limitations during stroke

the common physical limitations that occur during stroke are as follows;

a) stair climbing

b) bathing

c) walking

d) feeding

e) urinary/faecal incontinence

The brain is however, very adaptable i.e. capable of relearning new tasks and, with physiotherapy recovery can take place. Patients often have recovery in first few months, followed by slower recovery over the following years. With the correct physiotherapy input and advice patient have lots of potential to improve from the condition. Physiotherapy will assist in regaining as much movement and function as possible. Treatment often focuses on sitting, balance, standing, walking, using affected arm/hand, managing any change in the muscle tone , pain or stiffness. After stroke many people experience difficulties in performing tasks that were previously simple. Therefore physiotherapist will advise the patient the use of walking aids like crutches, sticks, splints and supports.

Manual handling training service should be done. This training involves teaching safe therapeutic handling and positioning techniques that will promote normal movement patterns and normal postural alignments of patients. Use of slings and wheel chair can also be taught.

 

Article publié pour la première fois le 13/01/2012

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