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If you or someone you love has had a stroke or CVA you will have an idea of the changes that can occur. Whether these changes are physical or psychological affecting emotions they have to be understood and allowed for during recovery. Some of the physical changes will be explained but don't forget the importance of helping yourself. Remember also that often at least initially, thinking processes can be affected which may make comprehension more difficult.

 

After a stroke either the left or right side of your body doesn't work properly to some degree. This has a large effect on your proprioception or sense of where your body is. You lose your ability to know where the middle is. Your brain interprets it as being towards the non-affected side because of the loss of use of your paralysed arm or leg. This has to be combated initially quite simply by making sure you lean to your affected, paralysed side. This stimulates the brain and stops it forgetting the affected side.

 

In the initial phases of stroke rehabilitation particular attention is paid to being able to sit up, stand up and eventually start walking. A physiotherapist is very important in guiding you through this stressful period. The stroke sufferer must be positive and help as much as possible in their own recovery. Without this active rehabilitation the chances of good recovery drop sharply. Our muscles are there to be used, not ignored.

 

If you have difficulty moving your arm it's essential that physical therapy focuses on your shoulder. You need all the muscles both in front and behind the shoulder to get working and hold you're the shoulder joint in place. Cushions or pillows are used when you're sat down and a sling of some form when you're standing and hopefully walking.

 

A recent new and welcome development is the use of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to speed recovery after a CVA. It is particularly helpful when used on the shoulder muscles in both building up strength and preventing shoulder subluxation.

 

Muscle stimulators are small, battery powered and use small currents to gently stimulate muscles. Research has shown that the brain is very good at 'forgetting' a paralysed limb, as the normal flow of information from the paralyzed limb into the brain ceases. By using muscular stimulation you strata the information flowing back to the brain, which aids recovery.

 

An unused muscle soon becomes stiff and painful which makes it difficult to move. Regular muscle stimulation relaxes and strengthens your muscles and helps speed your rehabilitation. The stimulators are easy to use and don't require physiotherapist supervision so you can use them everyday.

 

They are particularly good at stimulating the muscles involved in wrist and finger movement and help to minimise stiffness in the hands and fingers. Finally remember that a positive outlook helps so much so always be encouraging and believe in your stroke rehabilitation success.