Strokes: They’re daunting to consider partly because they come on suddenly and unpredictably, but also because your recovery and quality of life afterwards are largely unknown. Considering that strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S., researchers are constantly looking for innovative ways for stroke patients to see faster and better recovery.
Below, learn 4 of the therapeutic tools doctors are using to help stroke patients.
The best kinds of rehab devices are those that can adjust with your recovery, pushing you to regain more movement. Robotic elements like exoskeletons do just that. Because they are often customizable and attach directly to the affected body part, they can help patients perform tasks while also helping their brains re-learn the movements. What’s more, as patients improve and need the robotic parts less and less, therapists can adjust the level of aid the elements provide.
2. Video Games
While video games are stereotypically used by teens and young adults as a way to escape or join an online community of like-minded gamers, the technology is now being utilized by doctors to help stroke victims recover. Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that “neuroscientists know […] that a great deal of function can be recovered by repeating tasks that rely on lost function at least 400 times.” The repetitive, small movements required to play video games help with these little tasks that might otherwise seem boring or unnecessary. Using slings, gloves and bands, the games stimulate patients’ bodies and minds, which in turn helps rebuild damaged neural pathways.
3. Body Weight Systems
While gravity is a necessary part of life on Earth, it becomes an obstacle for many stroke victims. Patients find that their own weight is working against their recovery, which is why support devices designed to counteract the force of gravity can help them execute simple exercises. This, in turn, ultimately helps patients re-learn necessary movements. What’s more, according to one study, stroke victims who use body weight support systems were able to walk independently sooner than those who didn’t use the supports.
4. Digital Rehab Wearables
Many stroke victims find it difficult to regain full movement of their extremities. Because of that, researchers have developed wearables that have mechanical features to lessen the tension on fingers. Just as with the video game developments, these gloves often incorporate gamification, making it fun to wear them, engage in exercises, and that, in turn, increases neural plasticity.
Regardless of the treatment option your doctor chooses for you or your loved one, it’s important to remember that your brain and body have the best chance of recovery if you start therapy early on. During the first 30 to 90 days after a stroke, the brain is especially open to building connections from healthy tissue to the cells that were damaged. While it was previously believed that after that 90-day mark, further recovery was almost nonexistent, researchers have found that patients do in fact continue to see improvements months and even years after their stroke.
The rehabilitation process is not an easy one, but with the help and professionalism you’ll find at Post Acute Medical, both with their inpatient and outpatient care, the road will seem less daunting. Don’t settle for care that doesn’t fit your needs, or those of your loved ones.
For more information on their outpatient services or to learn more about their doctors and policies, visit PostAcuteMedical.com, or call the Corpus Christi North location at (361) 881-3223 or the South location at (361) 986-1600.
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
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