A stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is caused by an interruption to the blood flow to the brain tissue.
A stroke often has a devastating impact on an individual’s ability to move and physiotherapy treatment will be aimed at maximising the individual’s potential to recover their movement abilities.
The area of the brain that has been affected will determine the symptoms you will experience. In general terms the right side of the brain will control the left side of the body and vice versa therefore damage to the right side of the brain will result in the left side of the body being affected.
When a person has a stroke the effects can be wide ranging, they include problems with:
The problems may lead to weakness and even apparent paralysis as well as disturbed sensation, perception and vision. The muscles of the face and those used for swallowing can also be affected and lead to weakness or facial paralysis (hemi facial paralysis). However physiotherapy can have positive effects with many of these problems.
Physiotherapy assessment of postural control and knowledge of normal movement is an integral part of treatment planning for stroke rehabilitation.
The physio will create an individually tailored treatment program for each patient that will include treatment goals, outcome measures to track progress and often a personalised home exercise program.
Early treatment of stroke by a physiotherapist assists in optimal recovery. Although some improvement usually occurs in the first three months after a stroke, further recovery may continue for several years. Ongoing physiotherapy helps get the best recovery possible in the long-term.
Physiotherapists are specially trained to identify movement problems that may be caused by a stroke and can retrain the use of the arms and legs to improve important activities such as walking, balance and feeding.