Stroke is a serious condition that makes the patient lose the capacity to perform daily activities such as reach for an object, retain information, maintain balance and concentration among other simple tasks. To regain the capacity, patients are advised to seek the services of a therapist to help him or her improve the motor and sensory abilities that have been damaged. The therapist helps the patient through the occupational therapy treatment, which helps to reprogram parts of the brain and thus, regain muscle control. After suffering stroke, the survivor struggles to live regular lives because movements and things that used to be simple are no longer possible. After undergoing occupational therapy, the patients can be able to master daily tasks such as driving, bathing, dressing, cooking and writing among others and thus, return to work.
How Occupational Therapy Treatment Helps Stroke Patients
In addition to helping patients improve their quality of life by improving their motor and sensory abilities, the therapist also helps survivors learn strategies to overcome challenges. The occupational therapist also helps the survivors learn how to adapt to their range of motion and movement through practical strategies such as dividing a complex activity into smaller parts and then perform each part individually until the patient can perform the complete sequence of the activity. Through the practical strategies, the survivor is able to strategize how to overcome challenges through ability compensation.
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Through the occupation therapy, the therapist is also able to help the survivors and their family undertake the necessary changes in their home to make the spaces safer and easier to move around. The patient and the therapist work together to identify areas that need changes such as bathrooms to make the patient navigate the room easily. The therapist also helps the patient to cope with challenges that include cognitive, emotional and physical challenges and thus, return to the routine activities.
How to prepare for occupational therapy treatment
During your initial stages, the therapist will evaluate your challenges and difficulties based on your current limitations and the severity of your stroke as well as your physical environment to determine the therapy that you will need to regain your capability. Furthermore, as the therapy progresses, the therapist will also help you devise strategies that will help you regain as much independence as possible. Basically, the therapist will evaluate your home and make recommendations to make it better, recommend equipment that will make your home more accessible as well as instruct your family on how best to help you participate in activities.
Occupational therapy tools that help patients regain independence
After carrying thorough evaluation of the patient needs, the therapists are mandated to come up with the ideal occupational therapy treatment ideas for stroke patients to help them regain as much independence as possible to enable them to live a quality life. To assist the patients in their recovery, the therapist can recommend specialized tools and self-directed exercises based on the needs of an individual survivor. Some of the tools that a therapist can recommend include the adaptive equipment to help survivors become more self-sufficient. The adaptive equipment helps the patient with dexterity and neurological stimulation to reprogram the unaffected parts as well as strengthen and stimulate the weakened muscles. The adaptive equipment are usually one-handed and can include key turners, writing aids, knob turners, zipper pulls, and socks aids among others.
The therapist will also recommend everyday objects for exercises to help the patient perform physical therapy at home such as chairs and towels, which can be used to practice balancing and stretching exercises as well as cups and pens that can be used to improve grasp-and-release movements. The therapist can also recommend rehabilitation gloves to help improve grasping and releasing, dynamic splints to help the patient maintain neutral hand and wrist positioning, and constraint-induced movement therapy mitts to help the patient increasingly use the affected arm. Other tools that can help stroke patients recover include the electrical stimulation devices, which can help patients improve their motor movement, neuroplasticity and function, and gravity compensation devices, which can help survivors reduce the effect of gravity among others.
Exercises that can help stroke survivors regain independence and control
Regaining control and independence after a stroke is not easy as the survivor must relearn skills that were lost but with perseverance, patience and practice it is possible. The therapist will come up with the most practical occupational therapy treatment ideas for stroke patients to help the body and brain adapt after a stroke. Naturally, the therapist will recommend exercises based on the target area and the skill or functionality that the survivor is required to learn.
Arm exercises to help patients reclaim their strength
With basic exercises at home and continued occupational therapy, stroke patients can restore their normal arms functionality and thus, improve their daily lives. Nevertheless, the patients must focus on the basic arm exercises that can help renew the muscle-to-mind connections and build strength. Some of the basic level exercises that can help add mobility and flexibility to the affected arm include inner arm stretch and wrist and hand stretch while the intermediate level exercises include crawling stretch, elbow stretch, and wrist motion. Other exercises include elbow weight training, finger walking and seated pushup.
Balance exercises that can help stroke patients reclaim their stability
After a stroke, the patients will usually experience walking difficulty due to muscle weakness and coordination difficulty. The coordination and balance usually improve as the brain starts to repair itself. However, if the problem does not improve, the patient should start recovery, occupational and physical therapy to help restore balance. Some of the balance exercises that can help patients their stability include side-stepping, heel to toe walking, squats against gym ball, backward walking, single leg standing and weighted ball pass among others.
Hand exercises that can help patients reclaim their dexterity
After suffering stroke, grasping and releasing products become very difficult. To reclaim dexterity, it is highly necessary to incorporate hand exercises into the survivor’s daily life. Some of the hand exercises that the patients can incorporate into their daily lives include wrapping their thumb over their fingers and then slowly open and spread the fingers wide. The patients can also carefully and gently spread the five fingers apart repeatedly in a controlled movement to help the hand re-learn how to move fingers.
Recovery after suffering stroke is possible as long as the patient remains motivated and committed to using all tools and exercises that can help improve independence. The recovery process also highly depends on the recommendations of the therapist and thus, a patient should only use the services of a highly qualified therapist.