Archive for April 2015

Stroke Rehabilitation Through Occupational Therapy

More than 795,000 adults living in the United States have a stroke each year. In 130,000 cases, the stroke is fatal. For those who do survive, the road ahead can be challenging and permanently altered.

Strokes occur when a blockage or brain bleed cuts off blood supply to part of the brain, damaging or destroying brain cells. This causes its victims to suffer from a variety of longer-term to permanent problems, which might include: cognitive problems, communication problems, depression, emotional problems, fatigue, physical problems, visual problems, physical pain, incontinence and balance issues.

With stroke as a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S., it’s crucial that stroke victims seek treatment and therapy early on to correct the effects as much as possible. Depending on the patient’s particular problems, his or her stroke rehabilitation team may include rehabilitation doctors or nurses, physical therapists, speech-language therapists, recreational therapists, psychologists, social workers, orthotist, dietitian, vocational counselor and/or an occupational therapist.

Although each specialist plays an important role, an occupational therapist will do much of the stroke rehabilitation work to get the patient back to independent living. By observing and evaluating the patient’s lifestyle and motor skills pre- and post-stroke, the occupational therapist can come up with a plan to increase strength, mobility and function to meet daily needs. This will be done through exercises and activities that will also work to reteach tasks like eating, bathing, dressing, writing and/or cooking. In many cases, the patient will not be able to regain the same level of function as before the stoke, but they can be trained to use new, modified versions of these day-to-day tasks. The occupational therapist will conduct a home evaluation to identify the safety of the home, whether these daily tasks could be done one-handed or if equipment (i.e. wheel chair, hand rails, ramps, etc.) is needed. They often expand their evaluation and therapy to include tasks that would be completed outside of the home and in the community as well (i.e. trips to the doctor, grocery shopping, visiting the bank, etc.). The occupational therapists can connect the patient with transportation assistance and other services designed to assist people with similar limitations.

As previously mentioned, many stroke victims are not able to return to the exact life they had before their stroke, but with the help of occupational therapy, they can return to a life with fewer challenges and greater independence.

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

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