What is stroke rehabilitation?
The goal in rehabilitation is to help the
stroke survivor become as independent as possible. When a
stroke occurs, some parts of the brain may be damaged
because brain cells have died. Or parts of the brain may be
temporarily damaged and start working normally again after
the stroke. Sometimes, a different part of the brain "takes
over" for a part damaged by the stroke.
A stroke can affect the senses, movement of
your muscles, and speech. It can change behavior, thoughts,
and memory. Familiar objects from the past may not be
familiar anymore. The most common brain injury from a stroke
causes paralysis or weakness on one side of the face or
The mental problems caused by a stroke can
be very serious. Stroke survivors may cry easily or laugh
uncontrollably. Depression is common. It is important for
the stroke survivor's family to understand that many mental
problems, even personality changes, may a result of the
stroke. Persons who have had a stroke need support as they
Rehab begins when the health care provider
determines that the stroke survivor is medically stable and
able to benefit from it, usually within 1 to 2 weeks after
the stroke has occurred. Most of the recovery that is
possible will occur within 6 months, but some function may
be regained as long as a year afterward.
There are three main kinds of stroke rehab:
Physical therapy (PT) helps
restore physical abilities and skills like walking and
range of movement. PT works on problems such as partial
or one-sided paralysis, balance problems, and foot drop.
Occupational therapy (OT)
involves relearning the skills needed for everyday
living such as eating, toileting, dressing and taking
care of yourself.
Speech language therapy is
another major part of stroke rehabilitation. Some stroke
survivors can think as well as before the stroke but are
unable to get the right words out or process words
coming in. This is usually caused by a stroke on the
left side of the brain. Speech language therapists can
also help with memory loss and other "thought" problems
caused by the stroke.
What will I do in rehab?
What you do in rehab depends on what you
need to relearn. You may work to improve your independence
in many areas. These include:
self-care skills such as feeding,
grooming, bathing and dressing
mobility skills such as walking or
propelling a wheelchair
communication skills in speech and
thinking skills such as memory or
social skills for interacting with other
Depending on the severity of the stroke, you
may have rehab treatments in:
What are the benefits?
Stroke rehab can help you and your family
during a difficult time. And most insurance covers the cost
of such programs.
10% of stroke survivors recover almost
25% recover with minor impairments.
40% have moderate to severe impairments
requiring special care.
The most valuable benefits of stroke rehab
are independence and improved quality of life.