A stroke occurs when the blood supply is cut off from all or part of your brain. This can occur as a result of a bursting blood vessel in your brain or a blood clot or other mass in your circulatory that cuts off the blood supply to your brain. This can result in paralysis, or hemiplegia, on one side of your body as well as the loss of the ability to talk, swallow and/or communicate. Rehabilitation following a stroke that results in paralysis on the right or left side of your body can include therapies to help restore your ability to communicate as well as treatments to help improve your post-stroke quality of life.
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Depending on your specific condition, you will probably begin your physical therapy program while you’re still in the hospital recovering. Physical therapy following a stroke can involve a therapist helping to move your affected limbs to increase blood circulation and muscle tone. Other physical therapy goals include exercises specifically designed for you to help improve your ability to balance and restore your coordination. The goal of physical therapy after a stroke is to help you regain as much of your pre-stroke abilities as possible.This initial therapy can carry over after you leave the hospital by helping you to write and type with your left hand since you no longer have the ability to use your right hand. This therapy can also involve speech therapy if your ability to talk or communicate has been affected by your paralysis.
Part of your physical therapy regimen will include strength training exercises to help improve your muscle tone and decrease the spasticity, or a tightening of your muscles that can result in involuntary movements and a loss of balance. This can include therapies to help strengthen the muscles on your non-dominant side if you're right handed to help compensate for the loss of mobility and coordination on your dominant side. Your strength training program will likely begin with light weights to help you regain your coordination. This strength training can also help prevent the loss of bone mass, or osteoporosis, that is a problem with patients suffering from paralysis.
Your therapist is likely to develop a stretching program specifically designed for you following your stroke. Flexibility training can help offset the spasticity that is common after a stroke, improve your blood circulation and help restore balance and coordination lost after a stroke. This training is especially important if you've relied on your right -- or dominant -- side most of your life. Since the muscles you use most are often the most flexible this training can focus on keeping your right side as flexible as possible while increasing your mobility on your left side. This stretching, coupled with strength training, can help improve your posture and mobility to help you lead a more productive life.
If your doctor and/or therapist gives you the go-ahead, cardiovascular training can help improve your overall health and quality of life. Cardiovascular conditioning can involve improvised exercises designed to get your heart pumping, aquatic exercise or simply walking on a treadmill. This program should always be performed in the presence of your physical therapist until you are comfortable with your abilities and can exercise without the fear of loss of balance or coordination.