Stroke Rehabilitation


Strokes effect millions of people every year and can be deadly. Some occur suddenly and some have pre-stroke warning signs. TIA’s or transient ischemic attacks may or may not happen prior to having a stroke. During a TIA, a blood vessel going to the head of neck becomes partially occluded. This decreases the oxygen available to the brain. With a TIA, symptoms the patient experiences are usually dizziness, blurred vision; double vision or loss of consciousness.

There are two types of strokes. The first is ischemic. Ischemia occurs when the blood vessel becomes blocked and the brain doesn’t have enough oxygen to work properly. The blockage occurs from something occluding the vessel, and then the blood supply is shut off. Therefore, brain activity will be inhibited because the fuel supply is not adequate.

The second type is hemorrhagic. A hemorrhagic stroke is more severe than an ischemic stroke. With this type of stroke, the blood vessel actually bursts causing bleeding within the skull. More damage occurs with this type of stroke.

People that have undergone a stroke have very similar characteristics. Usually, one side of the body does not work as well as the other side. For example, the right side may appear stiffer compared to the other side. This stiffness or inability to move directly relates to brain function. If the right side of the body is rigid, this can be traced back to the left side of the brain. Short or long term memory may be impaired.

With a stroke, gait is often disturbed, speech is slurred, one side of the face appears droopy or one leg is stiff, all of these symptoms are related to a deficiency in brain function. Usually, one side of the brain has been affected. To gain back function of the areas damaged by the stroke, activities must be performed that influence those specific areas of the brain. Treatment for stroke has traditionally been with pharmaceuticals. A November 1998 issue of “The Journal of Neuroscience” documents that pharmaceutical-based treatment does not work unless coupled with behaviorally based physical change.

There are many no pharmaceutical treatment modalities that are effective. Physical modalities do make major improvements. For example, visual stimulation on one side of the visual field, auditory stimulation in one ear, olfactory stimulation through one nostril, eye exercises through one visual plane, specific rehabilitative exercises, etc. These modalities target specific areas within the brain and brainstem to achieve the exact amount of stimulation needed. All of these treatment protocols are referenced and scientifically based.

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