Best Stroke Therapy

Becoming a caregiver to a loved one who recently had a stroke is a noble and rewarding task, yet it does have its challenges. With taking on this new role, you may have some pressing questions about what you should be doing to help improve daily living and reduce risk factors. Fortunately, there have been many developments in stroke therapy. We will detail what stroke therapy is, what recovery looks like, and additional resources for people residing in and around Toronto, Ontario.

This article will not only help people who have experienced strokes receive better care but also provide helpful tips to caregivers to ensure they are taking care of themselves.

What is Stroke Therapy? 

caregiver assisting an elderly

Source: rehabselect

Stroke therapy is the process of rehabilitation that helps people who have had strokes relearn lost skills, regain independence and overall attain a higher quality of life. Strokes can cause a number of impairments, including muscle weakness, paralysis, cognitive issues, and decreased emotional control due to loss of blood flow to the brain caused by a blood clot.

The severity of the stroke and brain injury will determine the trajectory of the stroke therapy. It is recommended that post-stroke therapy begin as soon as possible to start on the journey to recovery. Many times, survivors will start stroke rehabilitation in the hospital during inpatient care. Afterwards, with a hospital social worker or rehabilitation team, a stroke care plan will be created to continue the stroke therapy at home with caregivers and other elected support.

There are several types of stroke therapies for outpatients that range from physical rehabilitation to cognitive, emotional, and speech therapy. The main types of stroke therapy include:

Stroke Speech Therapy 

One of the most common results of a stroke is speech impairment which can come in many forms. Generally speaking, this type of stroke impairment is called aphasia. Aphasia occurs in up to 40% of stroke survivors making this a major area of focus in stroke therapy. Aphasia is due to an area of the brain that impacts speech, writing, reading, and general communication losing oxygen during the stroke.

However, all is not lost if aphasia does occur after a stroke. Fortunately, with regular speech therapy, stroke survivors can regain the skills to continue having everyday conversations. Some exercises in stroke speech therapy include:

  • Breathing Exercises
  • Tongue Strengthening Exercises
  • Practicing Speech Sounds
  • Naming Pictures
  • Sentence Practice

Stroke Occupational Therapy

Another form of stroke therapy is stroke occupational therapy which is provided through an occupational therapist. They holistically look at the stroke survivor’s physical, cognitive, and mental challenges that were brought on by the stroke. Upon doing this, they will determine a stroke after-care plan based on evidence-based methods that will help your loved one gain the ability to engage in regular daily activities and rebuild independence.

Another appealing component of stroke occupational therapy is that it considers the stroke survivor’s desires, needs, environment, activities and how their new limitations have impacted these areas. In an occupational therapist’s assessment, they will likely come to your home, or where the stroke patient will be living, to see what the environment is like and make personalized recommendations.

Some of those recommendations can include:

  • Eliminating safety hazards at home
  • Activities to improve physical endurance, strength and range of motion
  • Specialized equipment for the home to assist the person
  • Aids to help with vision and memory loss
  • Activities to help with self-confidence

Stroke Physical Therapy

Stroke physical therapy is the process of regaining function in muscles that may have become paralyzed due to a stroke. After a stroke, many people experience some form of loss in muscle control which can cause many hindrances to a stroke survivor’s daily life.

This type of therapy is done through a physical therapist or rehabilitation program, usually determined before leaving the hospital. Your loved one’s doctor will be able to make recommendations to therapists that will be able to help with their particular needs. If you would like alternative recommendations, please contact us, and we can point you in the right direction.

Some activities carried out in post-stroke physical therapy include:

  • A thorough exam and interview to determine individual needs
  • Regaining basic movements such as getting in and out of bed, sitting in a chair, etc., without harming any affected limbs
  • Progressing to balance exercises, retraining the brain to perform functional tasks
  • Learning how to utilize stroke recovery devices

What Percentage Makes a Full Recovery After a Stroke? 

old man exercising

Source: flintrehab

You might be wondering what the likelihood of recovery for your loved one is and if they will be able to regain the skills they had pre-stroke. Even with all the trauma from the stroke, there is still hope for many stroke survivors to reach normalcy — or close to normalcy — in their lives and not require long-term care.

According to the National Stroke Foundation, stroke survivors can expect the following recovery rates:

  • 10% recover almost completely
  • 25% recover with minor impairments
  • 40% often require special care after their stroke
  • 10% require long-term or nursing home care

To see your loved one reach the areas of almost completely recovered to minor impairments, it is recommended to start stroke rehabilitation as soon as possible after the stroke.

How to Care for Your Loved One After a Stroke (a Stroke Care Plan)

elderly holding a woman hands

Source: Companions for Seniors

Luckily there are many options through medical professionals to help post-stroke and start on the road to recovery. However, taking on the role of the primary caregiver comes with some important responsibilities to help not only your loved one but also yourself. Let’s go over what some of those responsibilities are.

Caring For Your Loved One

One of the first things to do is learn and assess; this will enable and empower you to care for and help make important decisions for your loved one. You can do this by getting fully involved in the rehabilitation process:

  • Talk with the health care team about what the stroke recovery and rehabilitation processes look like
  • Create a relationship with the health care team to comfortably reach out if you have further questions
  • Join support groups or programs that the hospital offers to connect with people experiencing similar situations
  • Familiarize yourself with post-stroke care reading material
  • Attend a few rehabilitation sessions and encourage your loved one to practice their new skills (without placing too much pressure on them)
  • Assess your loved one’s needs as well as your ability to meet them

At-Home Care

There will come a time (and hopefully sooner than later) where your loved one will be safe to return home. There are some essential things to remember so that you can adequately prepare both mentally and physically.

  • Understand that mood and behaviour changes will occur
  • Be aware of the risks of a second stroke by familiarizing yourself with stroke symptoms and stroke prevention practices
  • Always consider what safety measurements are in place

Talk to your loved one’s doctor before you go home to ensure these are a part of your stroke care plan.

Taking Care of Yourself

One of the most important things you can do as a caregiver is taking care of yourself. If you burn out, then that is not only an impediment to you but also your loved one who is relying on you for help. Here are some helpful self-care tips:

  • Focus on your physical and mental health
  • Remember to take the time for your own activities
  • Create some self-soothing practices to unwind from any stress
  • Get support if you start feeling overwhelmed

Resources in Toronto for Your Loved Ones Who’ve Experienced a Stroke

Fortunately, there are quite a few resources in the Greater Toronto area, stroke rehabilitation programs and stroke associations available to survivors and caregivers to make their lives and rehabilitation easier. Here are a few of our recommendations:

Summary

Whether you’re just beginning your caregiving journey with your loved one or have been in the process for a while, it is important to remember that there are plenty of resources, helpful people, and groups to support you through these trying yet rewarding times.

At Guardian Homecare, we want to extend a helping hand to assist you with any in-home care needs that your family may require. We service Toronto, North York, and Scarborough. Give us a call today at 416-613-8570 for your in-home care consultation.