Over 150,000 people have a Stroke every year in England. Having a Stroke is the biggest cause of adult disability in the UK because of the brain damage it causes. People over 65 are most at risk from having a Stroke, although 25% of Strokes happen in people under 65. Younger people and children can also have a Stroke.
What is a Stroke?
A Stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Like all organs, the brain needs oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function. If the blood supply is restricted or stopped, essential nutrients and oxygen don’t reach the brain, so brain cells are damaged or begin to die. This can lead to brain damage and possibly death.
There are two main causes of Strokes:
- Ischaemic – where a clot in one of the blood vessels restricts or stops the blood supply to the brain. This causes over 80% of all Strokes.
- Haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts and creates a bleed in the brain which causes brain damage.
TIAs or ‘mini-strokes’
There is a related condition known as a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA). This happens when the supply of blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted, causing a ‘mini-stroke’. This is often a warning sign that a Stroke is coming.
What are the symptoms of Stroke?
A Stroke can affect people in many different ways, depending on the type and severity, as well as the individual. It can cause a variety of symptoms with different combinations that are unique to each person.
These symptoms include:
- Impaired mobility
- Weakness or paralysis, often on one side of the body (called hemiplegia)
- Reduced awareness of the weaker side of the body
- Mild to severe pain
- Tight limbs
- Altered sensation
- Reduced balance
- Swallowing difficulties
- Speech or language problems
- Incontinence issues
- Mood changes
- Difficulties with understanding, memory, thinking, judgement, planning and foresight
- Visual problems
How can neurological physiotherapy help with Stroke?
Having a Stroke is a life-changing event and many survivors are left with difficulties and disabilities. A Stroke causes brain damage to differing degrees, but the brain is very adaptable.
A neurological physiotherapist can help you retrain your brain after Stroke. At your Initial Assessment, we will perform a full and detailed analysis of your symptoms and suggest the most appropriate physio treatment to meet your goals. We can help you regain as much movement and function as possible, focusing on walking, balance, using your affected limbs, and managing any changes in muscle pain or stiffness.
Ideally, physiotherapy should start immediately following your Stroke – in fact, research shows that the sooner you start your treatment, the more positive the outcomes will be. Treatment should continue once you leave hospital. Some people need physiotherapy for months after their Stroke, and even years to help maintain their rehabilitation.
Specifically, neurological physiotherapy can help you to:
- Improve balance and walking
- Increase ability to move in bed
- Increase ability to sit and stand
- Reduce muscle spasms, pain and stiffness
- Retrain normal patterns of movement, especially on an affected side of the body
- Increase arm and leg function
- Increase energy levels
- Increase independence and quality of life
- Reduce the risk of falls
Recovery after Stroke
Research shows that important recovery can take place in the first 6 months after a person has a Stroke.
However, while many changes happen then, it is important to remember that in the following months and years you can still make significant improvements in your movement, speech and day-to-day living.
New clients and their families often tell us that they have been told they will never improve further or never be able to stand, walk, go out or do everyday tasks such as dress, bathe and feed themselves. In our experience, everyone can improve.
Recovery can be a lengthy and challenging journey. We don’t claim to work miracles, but we know that neurological physiotherapy can really help people. Just see some of our Client Testimonials or Videos. However recent or long ago you had a Stroke, or however much you think you can’t improve, we can help you make progress, regain more independence, and enhance your quality of life.
Rehabilitation after a Stroke means different things to different people, depending on your goals. For some, your neurological physiotherapy treatment may focus on maintaining your current independence. Or you might aim to improve this. For example, you could work to retrain your body so you can stand up by yourself, improve your balance when walking, or get into a chair or bed. You might want to improve your vehicle access, so you can get out and about, or regain some hand function to help you with eating, dressing and doing everyday activities. For other people, neurological physiotherapy is aimed at preventing future health problems.
How far your rehabilitation goes will depend on several factors:
- the location and size of the Stroke
- your health before you had the Stroke
- any other health conditions you have
- your age and fitness level
- your ability to understand and remember things
- your willingness to engage in physiotherapy and work on your rehabilitation in between sessions