Therapy key to overcoming strokesMay 12, 2015
PRAIRIE DU SAC — More than 795,000 adults living in the U.S. have a stroke each year. In 130,000 cases, the stroke is fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who do survive, the road ahead can be challenging and permanently altered.
Strokes occur when a blockage or brain bleed cuts off blood supply to part of the brain, damaging or destroying brain cells. This causes its victims to suffer from a variety of long-term and possibly permanent problems, such as cognitive issues, communication problems, depression, anxiety, fatigue, physical pain and limitations, visual problems, incontinence and balance issues.
With stroke as a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S., it’s crucial that stroke victims seek treatment and therapy early on to correct the effects as much as possible. “The brain is amazing in how it can rewire itself, but it does take time and hard work,” Sauk Prairie Healthcare occupational therapist Diane Buckley said.
Many stroke victims have found that occupational therapy is a valuable and crucial part of their rehabilitation. At Sauk Prairie Healthcare, occupational therapists observe and evaluate the patient’s lifestyle and motor skills pre- and post-stroke, so that they can come up with a plan to increase strength, mobility and function to meet daily needs. “Recovery is unique to the patient, the type of stroke and the damage it caused. It’s important that we really individualize the patient’s treatment,” Buckley said.
Sauk Prairie Healthcare’s occupational therapists guide patients through exercises and activities that reteach tasks like eating, bathing, dressing, writing and cooking. In many cases, the patient is not be able to regain the same level of function as before the stoke, but they can be trained to use modified approaches to these day-to-day tasks.
Sauk Prairie Healthcare’s occupational therapists go above and beyond treatment to ensure that when the patients return to their home and/or workplace, the space is conducive to their new level of function. Buckley said, “One of our main goals is to get patients to their maximum level of independence — if that’s using some adaptive tool or equipment to make life easier, we will do that.” In many cases, that means problem solving to come up with solutions and adjustments.
Many stroke victims are not able to return to the exact life they had before their stroke, but occupational therapy can help patients make progress and improvements. “Occupational therapy patients can return to a life with fewer challenges and greater independence,” Buckley said.