With National Stroke Week (August 31 to September 6) taking place, it’s time to talk about strokes – a condition that affects thousands of Australians.
Strokes affect people differently, meaning they will have varying problems and needs. For some people, the effects may be fairly minor and short-term, while others may experience more prolonged effects.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood carrying oxygen is unable to get to a part of the brain, which affects the body’s function. The severity depends on which part of the brain is affected and by how much. This will determine how much support the affected person needs to regain their independence.
What are the effects of a stroke?
The effects of stroke on the body can vary, and include the following:
- Physical changes in the body
- Emotional and personality changes
- Changes to thinking, memory and perception
- Changes with communication
Any physical changes post-stroke will depend on which part of the brain was affected and by how much. These changes include:
- Difficulty with gripping or holding things
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Restricted ability to perform physical activities or exercise
- Weakness or paralysis of limbs on one side of the body
How can a physiotherapist help post-stroke recovery?
A stroke may cause muscle weakness or stiffness, which can lead to problems with movement and balance. It is common for one side of the body to be weak after a stroke, or weakness can occur in one arm or leg.
Physiotherapists can help you practise things that prove difficult, such as standing or walking, and can teach you exercises to strengthen your muscles so they work more efficiently.
Balance is complex and involves different body parts, including eyes, ears, muscles and joints. A stroke can affect how they interact to keep you feeling balanced. If your balance is impaired, you may feel dizzy or unsteady and this can reduce confidence and increase the risk of falling, which can impact your quality of life.
Balance retraining exercise is an effective way to address this and will be prescribed and supervised by your physiotherapist.
Following a stroke, the amount of physiotherapy you need and the exercises you do will depend on how the stroke has affected you. A physiotherapist will assess your problems and recommend activities tailored to you. It doesn’t matter how long ago you experienced the stroke – if you are finding certain tasks difficult, physiotherapy is one way to improve your quality of life.
Our friendly team are here to help, so call us today on 1300 797 793.
Article written by Mary Cousinery (physiotherapist – Melbourne West)