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Exercise after Stroke, Rehabilitation for Stroke Survivors.

Every year over 150,000 people have a stroke and it is the third largest cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.  The brain damage caused by strokes means that it is the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.
The first step of stroke rehabilitation begins in a hospital with “acute care.” These first steps include helping the patient survive, preventing another stroke, and taking care of any other medical problems.  The second step is the rehabilitation phase in hospital with physiotherapists that could last for several weeks before being discharged and returning home.

I find that most Stroke survivors don’t have enough help after being discharged from hospital, the physiotherapist is only coming once a week and the Stroke survivor soon realizes that if they don’t rehabilitate themselves, they will start to regress from the physical improvements they made while in hospital.  Think of it as a permanent lifestyle change that must be continued probably for the rest of their lives, this is in order for their mind and body to continue with the rehabilitation process.

Bob a 76-year-old Stroke survivor spent many weeks in hospital recovering from his stroke, when he was discharged, he’s clinical note said, ‘Bob has not resulted in independent walking due to right-sided weakness, a strong withdrawal response, right knee contracture and inability to weight bear through the right side’.  When I first meet Bob he was in a bad way, he had giving up and had been forgotten about.  He was told that he would never walk again.

It broke my heart to hear this, why tell someone this when they clearly have the potential to walk again with a bit of hard work.  You ask anyone who has recovered from a stroke about their recovery and they will tell you that it was the hardest thing they have ever had to do in life.  Well Bob has worked hard, not as hard as I would have liked him to, but hard enough for him to be able to walk again.  This all come down to a bit of hard work from Bob and my training at the Arni Institute, where I gained Exercise after Stroke knowledge to pass on to stroke survivors just like Bob.

After a stroke, all patients should participate in cardiovascular endurance training unless there are contraindications against this.  Cardiovascular endurance training should include marching, sidestepping, alternate knee lifts and other rhythmical, large muscle group aerobic activities that utilize a stable base and dynamic balance.  In addition, the session should contain balance, co-ordination, functional strength and flexibility training not only to improve the performance of everyday activities, but to increase range of movement and improve posture, all this will help reduce the risk of falls.  The aim should be to achieve moderate physical activity (sufficient enough to become slightly breathless) for 20–30 minutes each day.  Exercise programs should be considered and tailored to the individual following an appropriate assessment.  Screening for absolute contraindications for exercise is a must.  The health professional will determine whether there are any absolute contraindications to exercise, the main absolute contraindications to exercise being unstable heart disease.  Once it has been agreed by the GP that the stroke survivor is appropriate to be referred for exercise, they will be able to start an exercise program with a Specialist Exercise and Fitness Trainer with Exercise after Stroke qualifications.

Not everyone will recover the same, so there is no guarantee that one person or another will be able to achieve the same results as the next.  The aim is to get your life back to normality and to be able to perform daily tasks again, simple tasks like standing up and walking.  As a Stroke survivor you will need to set goals and challenges, these have to be achievable goals or you will lose motivation.  The goals also have to be task-specific with lots of repetitions.  Bob is not the only success story here, I have dozens of stories to tell, the main point I am trying to get across to all those Stroke survivors out there is you’re not the only survivor and you’re certainly not the only one trying to recover from a stroke, its going to be a long road to recovery with a lots of hard work to go with it.

About the Author:
Peter has been helping Stroke survivors in their recovery and rehabilitation for many years now, he trained with Tom Balchin at the Arni institute, and went on to become a Level 4 Exercise Specialist in Exercise After Stroke, he is the Director of Fit Fast Trainers.

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