Regaining Control: Rehabilitating Your Motor Skills After a Stroke

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, and approximately two-thirds of these individuals survive and require rehabilitation. Many experience physical effects such as paralysis and weakness that affect the motor skills that control our basic activities, such as walking, grasping, reaching and other movements.

“The good news for the thousands of people who suffer physically debilitating strokes each year is that improvement of motor functions is achievable with rehabilitation and recovery,” says Stacey Palumbo, Director of Therapy Services, MOTR-L, at Bryn Mawr Terrace in Bryn Mawr, PA. 

“Our goal in stroke rehabilitation is to help individuals become as independent as possible and to attain the best possible quality of life. Even though rehabilitation cannot reverse brain damage caused by a stroke, rehab services can substantially help people achieve good long-term outcomes with the highest level of functioning possible.

“To achieve the maximum benefit for a loved one who has suffered a stroke, it is critically important for families to understand that early initiation of therapy favorably influences the person’s recovery. Therefore, do not delay. When the start of stroke therapy is delayed, it can significantly compromise the person’s ability to recover to their full potential,” adds Stacey.

Stroke Rehabilitation Provides Hope and Renewal

Thanks to modern stroke rehabilitation techniques, stroke survivors can relearn skills that have been lost when part of the brain is damaged. These relearned skills can include coordinating leg movements needed to walk or carrying out the steps involved in any complex activity.

Rehabilitation also teaches new ways of performing tasks to circumvent or compensate for any residual physical disabilities. Individuals may need to learn how to bathe and dress using only one hand, or how to communicate effectively when their ability to use language has been compromised. There is a strong consensus among rehabilitation experts that the most important element in any rehabilitation program is carefully directed, well-focused, repetitive practice—the same kind of practice used by all people when they learn a new skill.

Post-Stroke Motor Skill Rehabilitation 

According to the Mayo Clinic, paralysis is one of the most common physical disabilities resulting from stroke. The paralysis is usually on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain damaged by stroke, and may affect the face, an arm, a leg, or the entire side of the body.

This one-sided paralysis is called hemiplegia (one-sided weakness is called hemiparesis). Stroke patients with hemiparesis or hemiplegia may have difficulty with everyday activities such as walking or grasping objects. Some stroke patients have problems with swallowing, called dysphagia, due to damage to the part of the brain that controls the muscles for swallowing. 

Stroke rehabilitation that addresses motor skill deficits may include some or all of the following activities, depending on the part of the body or type of ability affected.

  • Strengthening motor skills involves using exercises to help improve your muscle strength and coordination, including therapy to help with swallowing.
  • Mobility training may include learning to use walking aids, such as a walker or canes, or a plastic brace (orthosis) to stabilize and assist lower extremity strength to help support your body's weight while you relearn how to walk.
  • Range-of-motion therapy uses exercises and other treatments to help lessen muscle tension (spasticity) and regain range of motion. Sometimes medication can help as well.
  •  Technology-assisted physical activities such as functional electrical stimulation (FES) canactivate nerves and make the muscles move. This in turn can enable the brain to recapture and relearn this movement without the stimulation.

RenewAll Stroke Rehabilitation: Your Path to Stroke Recovery Starts Here

In most cases, recovery from stroke begins with professional care and short-term rehabilitation. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, the RenewAll Short-Term & Medically Complex Care program has been developed specifically to support successful recoveries and safe returns to home.

Says Stacey, “The RenewAll program balances medical management and physical rehabilitation to support effective stroke recovery. With an interdisciplinary approach that includes a care team of medical professionals, therapists, nurses, nutrition specialists, and discharge planners, loved ones in our short-term rehabilitation program have greater opportunities to experience a smooth transition from the hospital to home. 

“In particular, our physical therapists, occupational therapists, therapeutic recreation specialists, and speech therapists specialize in treating disabilities related to motor and sensory impairments, thereby ensuring patient safety and top-quality care in the post-stroke period.” 

To learn more about our personalized short-term rehab and care plans, give us a call or find details about our services on our website.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts! 

If you have comments or questions about our blog on strong rehabilitation and motor skill recovery, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived! 

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, independent living, personal care, memory care, restorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at (610) 525-8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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