Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Physiotherapy and Strokes

May is Action on Stroke Month, raising awareness of the risk factors associated with strokes, as well as how to spot the symptoms and treat someone who has suffered a stroke.

According to the British Heart Foundation approximately 152,000 people have a stroke each year, with 76% of stroke survivors being left with disabilities and requiring rehabilitation through physiotherapy.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a sudden 'brain attack' that occurs when the blood flow is cut off to part of the brain (infarct), or due to bleeding within the brain (haemorrhage). Usually this is due to a blood clot. Some strokes are fatal while others cause permanent or temporary disability.

Emergency medical treatment should be sought soon after symptoms begin, as the longer a stroke remains untreated the greater the chance of brain damage and the more difficult recovery becomes.

Stroke is more common in men and in people over 55, although it can occur at any age. Risk factors include: a family history of strokes, diet, drinking alcohol, smoking and lack of exercise, although sometimes there is no obvious cause.

Action to be taken

F ace – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
A rms – can they lift both arms?
S peech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
T ime - Is critical - if you see any of these signs call 999 immediately.

Effects of a stroke
  • Weakness or complete paralysis in muscles on one side of the body
  • Limbs on the effected side of the body may feel heavy and numb, or sensations similar to pins and needles
  • Postural issues affecting balance
  • Stiff muscles on the affected side of the body

Physiotherapy is essential for recovery from a stroke, particularly neurophysiotherapy, which treats problems that originate in the brain and therefore it is important to receive this form of therapy for at least some part of the recovery process.

The brain is incapable of replacing damaged cells with new ones after a stroke, so recovery is reliant upon the ability to reorganise the undamaged cells. This is called neuroplasticity.

Physiotherapists will often work with other specialists to treat a variety of issues, with the aim of the rehabilitation team being to make sure a patient is as active as possible, as soon as possible after a stroke to avoid issues such as stiff joints and muscle tightness.

Guidelines recommend at least 45 minutes of physiotherapy per day to strengthen muscles (as well as any other therapy required).

The sooner a stroke is treated, the survival rate increases and the chance of successful rehabilitation significantly improves. Physiotherapy is essential for recovery and should be started as soon as possible.

UCLan's Physiotherapy Clinic offers treatment for neurological issues, providing services to the general public as well as staff and students of the university, from £30 for an initial assessment and £35 for physiotherapy for stroke. They are a recognised provider of Physiotherapy services for many insurance companies including BUPA.

For more details please click here or telephone 01772 894902.

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