Having a stroke is a major life event. After stroke, most people spend time in hospital, either in an acute stroke unit, stroke rehabilitation unit or both.
Your rehabilitation should start early, in the first few days after stroke. Your rehabilitation should then be ongoing. Depending on your progress it may last for weeks or years!
Stroke rehabilitation aims to improve your function and ability to move via neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity means changing or remodeling your brain. To put it simply you try to get other areas of your brain to take over the function of the damaged area.
There is good evidence that stroke rehabilitation can be effective. For example, most people will walk again after their stroke, even if they can’t walk in the first few months.
I will now try and answer some questions you may have about your rehabilitation:
- Who should be involved in my rehabilitation?
The health professionals who should be involved will vary based on your problems after stroke. However, they commonly include a physiotherapist who can assist you to regain movement and function, an occupational therapist who can assist you return to your home, work or social role and a speech therapist to assist with communication and eating.
- What should my rehab program include?
The majority of your rehab program should be active exercises. Learning how to move and talk again takes lots of practice of these skills. It can be hard work at times and the exercises can be challenging. But it can also be fun and rewarding!
- Where do I go to get rehabilitation?
There are now a few options you can choose from.
Some public hospitals will offer rehabilitation services, contact your local hospital to find out more. There are also private rehab clinics and hospitals, like Concentric Rehab Centre.
When considering where to go think about; convenience, cost, duration you can attend and the quality of the rehabilitation.
- Who will fund my rehabilitation?
There are a number of funding options if you choose to attend a private clinic. These include using private health insurance or NDIS funding. There is also a Medicare care plan that can subsardise the fees, speak to your family doctor about this.
- What do I need to do at home?
The more active practice you can do the better! Your rehab team should be able to provide you with a program you can complete at home, either on your own or with support. If you don’t currently have a program, this would be a great question to ask your team.
- What if I’m not progressing as I’d like?
This is a great question. If this is happening I suggest asking the following questions;
Have I done enough? Meaning have you completed enough practice to make a change.
Have I done the right practice? For example, if you want to improve your walking you need to practice walking, or things similar to walking like stepping.
Is it worth my time and effort to keep trying? I guess this relates to how motivated you are to keep persisting and how important the goal is for you.
You should be able to discuss these issues with your rehab team and reflect on your progress.
So that’s my guide to stroke rehabilitation. Remember it can be a long tough journey, but it can also be hugely rewarding!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Dr Kate Scrivener