Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is post-stroke therapy always necessary?"
Does anyone ever get better on their own? A friend is supposed to be treated for a recent stroke and the therapy they're putting her on doesn't sound like it will be useful.
Thank you for your question. Post-stroke therapy is often managed by physiatrists, who are physicians who are trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and are specialists in recovery from trauma such as accidents, injuries, or stroke. While it is not possible to determine the utility of the therapy your friend is receiving without knowing more about her specific case, post-stroke therapy focuses on restoring a broad range of functions to their previous baseline. Individual recovery after stroke can be variable, and people are at risk for permanent loss of speech and thought function, as well as for painful contractures of their limbs and extremities and, in the case of strokes which cause paralysis, skin breakdown and ulcers in paralyzed areas. Rehabilitation therapy focuses on helping individuals recover their previous functioning. People who have had muscle involvement often benefit greatly from stretching exercises that prevent contractures, as well as counseling around how to prevent skin breakdown. People who have lost speech benefit from speech therapy with individuals skilled in "work-arounds" for the common mental blockades which prevent effective speech. Finally, individuals who find themselves unable to do their normal activities often benefit from consultation around tools and devices which can help them function independently. Although there is always potential for spontaneous recovery post-stroke, the vast majority of individuals will benefit greatly from focused rehab tailored to their specific deficits and needs, and it is likely that the therapies which seem mundane may be of great benefit down the line for your friend's recovery from her stroke.
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