A stroke is referred to as a cerebrovascular accident and is the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen. Depending on the location within the brain and the length of time the blood flow is restricted or hemorrhaging dictates the severity of the symptoms.
Common symptoms of stroke are a slurring of speech, facial droop, weakness or loss of function in one side of the body, in the arm and/or leg. Immediate emergency medical attention is needed if these symptoms begin. Stroke can affect cognitive function, speech, the ability to swallow, walk, balance, strength, and function.
After medical management, rehabilitation is needed to assist the person in regaining as much function as possible. Many people are able to regain most function in their affected limbs, speech and enjoy life with modifications.
How physical therapy helps:
Physical therapy is a vital part of the recovery of a person who has suffered a stroke. A thorough evaluation is done in various stages of the rehabilitation process to determine progression in strength, transfers, walking, balance, range of motion and safety. Our physical therapists approach the care of each person as an individual adapting the best rehabilitative process to each case. A great deal is done to ensure the safety of the person when transitioning from sit to stand, transferring in and out of the car, navigating stairs, and walking on uneven terrains. In addition, the strengthening and exercising of muscles provide positive feedback to the nervous system to accelerate adaptation and function.
Occupational therapists work very closely in the process to improve upper extremity and hand function. Learning to write, improving dexterity, movement of the elbow and shoulder are crucial components to functional use of the arm. In addition, occupational therapists assist in cognitive improvements, and especially adaptations to daily activities such as dressing, caring for oneself, cooking and work activities. Many of these skills that we may take for granted must be re-learned.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and the ability to coordinate movement in the body. Since Parkinson’s Disease affects many areas of the brain, symptoms can vary in individuals and progression can be either mild, moderate or aggressive. Parkinson’s Disease typically affects one’s ability to walk causing difficulty with starting or stopping while walking. In addition, movements tend to become slower with tremors that may occur in the hands. Muscles can become quite rigid, leading to loss of motion and poor posture. A dangerous symptom is called retropulsion, where the tendency of an individual is to fall backward with little to no ability to protect oneself.
Speech can also be affected by Parkinson’s Disease becoming slurred and slow due to poor activation of the mouth, tongue and throat muscles. In addition, eating and drinking can become challenging due to difficulty with swallowing. Another symptom may include difficulty with writing, becoming illegible or very small.
How physical therapy helps:
Physical therapy and occupational therapy are essential therapies for people with Parkinson’s Disease. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, a tremendous amount can be done to improve one’s function and maintain gains. In coordination with your physician, rehabilitation focuses on improving movement, safety, independence with activities, transfers, cognitive, speech, and swallowing. Physical therapists focus on improving range of motion, strength, endurance, safety with transfers from low surfaces, posture, and movement in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.
Occupational therapists focus on movements of the upper extremities, cognitive improvements, coordination with dressing and caring for oneself, and adaptations to be independent as possible with daily living activities. Speech therapists focus on improving speech, safety with eating/drinking, cognitive abilities and improving writing. It is important to note that our rehabilitation professionals work together as a team to help you reach goals along with family training for attaining maximum independence.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that causes the body’s immune system to abnormally attack the covering of the nerve cells, called myelin. This causes scarring and decreases the nerve’s ability to transmit signals properly. The progression of MS is based on 4 different types of aggressiveness stages. Multiple sclerosis is categorized by bouts of activity, with periods of minimal to no activity, depending on the different type of MS. Symptoms can vary from person to person as different parts of the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves are affected, making no two cases alike.
How physical therapy helps:
With multiple sclerosis, it’s likely that you’ll be feeling weakness, fatigue, and pain. Physical therapy can help you manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. A physical therapist will help you with stretches to ease muscle spasms, exercises to keep muscles strong and specific range-of-motion exercises for movement. With physical therapy, you can improve balance problems and trouble moving your body. You’ll also be given expert instruction on how to use assistive devices, such as a cane or wheelchair. A physical therapist can help you through all the stages of multiple sclerosis.
Do you suffer from a neurological condition? Is this condition impacting your lifestyle? If so, be sure to call Merrimack Valley Physical Therapy today for a one-on-one evaluation. Our skilled and knowledgeable physical therapists can help you manage and treat the symptoms of your neurological condition. Each patient has unique needs, and our physical therapists will provide you with an individualized treatment plan for success.