Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

How Short-Term Rehabilitation Is Essential For A Stroke Patient's Full, Rapid Recovery

by Freddie Cox

Strokes affect approximately 700,000 Americans each year. Sadly, about a third of these victims die, and the surviving two-thirds are significantly affected by strokes to one degree or another. The good news is stroke survivors can recover much of their lost physical and mental functions if they receive prompt intensive care and support. Short term rehabilitation facilities specialize in this kind of help and can rapidly turn around a stroke victim's prognosis.

The guiding principles of short-term therapy for stroke patients

Since time is a precious resource in the hours and days after a stroke, it's important to set priorities regarding treatment of stroke patients. There are clear, research-based principles to which short-term rehabilitation facilities should adhere during their brief time with stroke patients. These principles guide the priorities of care and help establish the most important duties and responsibilities:

A rapid, integrated approach to therapy

In the mid-20th Century, the accepted treatment regimen for patients in the first days and weeks following their stroke was plentiful amounts of rest and quiet. Unfortunately, research has shown the opposite philosophy should have been front and center; stroke patients should receive significant stimulation and intrusive care in the first few hours after the incident. Further, the therapeutic approach within a short-term rehabilitation setting should be provided by practitioners from multiple perspectives—medical, psychological, and physical.

Medical intervention focused on prevention and recovery

While it's no longer the exclusive treatment modality used with stroke patients, medical intervention still plays a vital role in helping these individuals recover during the first few hours and days. There are several drugs commonly prescribed for patients:

  • Anti-coagulant and anti-platelet – this group of medicines includes several sophisticated pharmaceutical products as well as the humble, but still potent, aspirin. Their purpose is to lessen the likelihood of blood clotting or "thickening" and causing a repeat stroke.
  • Blood pressure control – hypertension contributes to a higher likelihood of stroke, so making sure that blood pressure is under control is critical to preventing another stroke.
  • Therapeutic – this group includes using medicines that enhance healing and focus on recovery of lost functions. Anti-depressives are an important subset within this group, since depression is a significant problem for stroke patients and is actually the most common long-term debilitating condition. A medication that is showing promise for motor skills recovery is fluoxetine; originally developed as an anti-depressant, fluoxetine increases brain plasticity, an important dimension related to how muscle control is relearned.

Daily living skills recovery

Ultimately, rehabilitation success is measured by how quickly and fully a stroke patient is able to return to their normal routines of daily life. That's what makes immediate intervention important for stroke patients; waiting too long after stroke onset can limit the future opportunities for full recovery.

Though it may seem somewhat trivial in the larger picture of regaining independence, control of bladder and bowel functions is essential for the well-being of stroke patients. In fact, urinary continence is the most important factor in predicting recovery and even survival. Bladder and bowel dysfunction contributes greatly to depression and can lessen the resolve of patients to keep progressing. That's why it's important for therapy teams to focus on getting patients up and out of bed and into the bathroom as quickly as possible.

Another area of focus is the use of hands and arms. Hand and arm functioning is another measure of independence for stroke patients, and the most effective therapy occurs immediately. This therapeutic response centers on finger, wrist, and shoulder extension and flexing; learning how to independently control each of these body parts is a key skill that contributes to long-term success. For the stroke patient who plans to return to a career or occupation, this is essential for making a successful transition from patient to independent worker.

Psychological and emotional recovery

As seen above, much of the debilitating effects of a stroke are intertwined with the emotional and psychological well-being of patients. Rehabilitation counselors and psychologists play a key role by providing the necessary support and encouragement that stroke patients need to keep moving forward. In addition, this team can provide valuable feedback to patients and other staff by objectively measuring and monitoring progress. Several diagnostic instruments can be utilized to test functioning from a mental and emotional perspective; implementing them shortly after a stroke occurs can provide valuable information for how to best proceed with treatment.


About Me

Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Ever since I was a young girl, I have had bad asthma and allergies. I had to stay in the hospital several times when I was in elementary school just to help get my asthma under control and it seemed like I was trying medication after medication with little success. I don't remember all of my childhood health details, since I was so young, but my mother has "filled in the blanks" for me. Thanks to modern medicine and a natural remedy, my health conditions are currently under control and have been for a few years now. I am very grateful for my good health, and I want to "pay it back" to others by creating a blog where I will post my health tips. I hope I can help you learn how to achieve good health!