Every year around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. This summary will help you understand some of the causes and show how physiotherapy can help.
A stroke is a sudden 'brain attack' that occurs when the blood flow to part of the brain is cut off. If brain cells do not receive enough oxygen, they can be damaged or destroyed. This may make it difficult for the person to move their facial muscles and limbs, to speak and swallow, or to understand what is happening around them.
A stroke is usually caused by a blood clot blocking part of one of the arteries carrying blood to the brain, or a blood vessel within the brain bursting, resulting in bleeding into the brain. Stroke is more common in men than women, and in people over the age of 55, although it can occur at any age. A family history may increase the risk, as can lifestyle factors such as diet, drinking alcohol, smoking and lack of exercise, but sometimes there is no obvious cause.
Physiotherapists play a key role in the healthcare team within hospital specialised stroke units, which also include doctors, nurses and occupational therapists, and in home aftercare services. As the 'movement expert' on the team, the physiotherapist's main aim is to help the person regain their movement and mobility.
If you cannot move after a stroke, the physiotherapist may help to position you. With time they will help you develop movement in any affected limbs or other muscles. Once you can participate in your own treatment, they will develop a personal programme, which may continue at your home once you are discharged from hospital.
The physiotherapist will work with you to help you become as physically independent and fit as possible. To help them do this they will ask lots of questions, watch your movements and touch the affected areas.
Any session is likely to include:
It may also include:
There is a public health campaign FAST so that everyone can recognise the first signs of a stroke by using the Face, Arm, Speech Test. Visit their website >>
Care after stroke
By the Stroke Association and the Royal College of Physicians (2008). Booklet providing advice and information for people who have had a stroke and those caring for them. Booklet >>
National Stroke Strategy for England
By the Department of Health (2007). Government document containing recent scientific evidence about treatment and care, and setting out what people should expect following a stroke. PDF >>
Public health campaign by the National Stroke Association (see below) to help everyone recognise the first signs of a stroke. Website >>
National Stroke Association
National charity working to combat stroke. It funds research and helps stroke patients and their families directly through its Rehabilitation and Support Services with a Stroke Helpline on 0845 3033 100 and excellent patient information.
Telephone: 0845 3033 100 (Helpline)
We can provide details of neurological physiotherapists if you contact the clinic