Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Last modified on August 30th, 2022
Stroke survivors will undoubtedly face a variety of hardships after a stroke event — physical impairments, emotional difficulties, mental disabilities — not to mention a heightened risk of a second attack. The road of rehabilitation can be a long one, but huge advances in both medical technology and therapeutic techniques have made it possible for survivors to enjoy incredible recoveries.
Bruce Myers, physiatrist, founder of Seacoast Area Physiatry, and director of the rehabilitation department at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, says, “Today’s neurological patients can benefit tremendously from a variety of state-of-the-art rehab techniques and equipment.”
By utilizing new inventions and advanced forms of therapy that include the use of interactive gaming, survivors can effectively reprogram their brains after an attack. If you’re currently searching for the right treatment for yourself or a loved one, take comfort in knowing that the options and opportunities for positive results are greater than ever before.
To better understand the rehabilitation process, it’s crucial to know that stroke survivors can face many devastating setbacks after an attack. The brain undergoes harsh trauma during a stroke, so corresponding physical issues can be expected. After an episode, a patient may begin to have difficulty performing nominal tasks — getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing themselves, preparing meals — or may have limited mobility that necessitates the use of a walker, cane, or wheelchair. In some cases, a stroke survivor may become unable to move certain extremities, or even an entire side of their body.
The brain is responsible for processing, comprehending and communicating information. Thus, damage to the brain can negatively affect cognitive function. A stroke survivor with cognitive impairments may have trouble speaking, understanding questions or ideas, or remembering names and faces. They may also be at risk for post-stroke depression. Those who suffer from a left-side stroke can be particularly burdened with mental issues and complications. Post-stroke PTSD, pseudobulbar affect (PBA), and trouble sleeping can also stem from cognitive or psychological disturbances.
These adversities can be overwhelming, but establishing the right routines of treatment and participating in the right daily activities can lead to vast improvements in a survivor’s life.
A stroke can be a difficult thing to overcome, but, with the right help, a good recovery is possible.
After finding the right doctor and support team, the next important thing a stroke survivor needs is a stable treatment regimen. This ensures that assessments of the survivor’s progress are always being made, reachable goals are set for certain periods of time, and consistency is maintained throughout the duration of the program. Within these parameters, a survivor has a great shot at regaining independence after an attack. With that in mind, incorporating different styles of rehabilitation into an already solid routine can make a survivor’s chances of recovery even greater!
Studies have shown that electronic devices and developmental games can be far more engaging than other forms of rehabilitation. By switching up exercises and incorporating new regimens, a survivor will be less likely to succumb to bouts of lethargy. Here are a few tools that can help.
Video games are used to create engagement for stroke survivors, while promoting cognitive development. When a survivor completes a level or wins a round, instant progress can be seen, which provides motivation and a deep sense of accomplishment. It’s also worth mentioning that “unlike traditional computer games, whose main purpose is for entertainment, serious games — such as console based therapies — are designed with the intent of being used for education or training”. This distinction is a crucial one because it incentivizes users to apply themselves to the game, rather than dismiss it outright as pointless or frivolous.
A great example of this can be found in the SaeboReJoyce. This upper extremity rehabilitation tool is a workstation that assists patients recovering from damaged function of the arms and hands. This system is excellent for users because it offers computerized exercises and activities that are specifically designed for the upper limbs. Plus, it can be played either at a clinic or at home!
The device allows a survivor to practice various grips and pinch patterns, includes all planes of arm movement, tracks progress over an extended period of time, and also allows the user to operate the device in different positions — seated, standing, or lying in bed. More importantly, it’s a fun alternative to typical exercises that can quickly become mundane.
On the other hand, if this system doesn’t seem right for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of applications that you can download on your smartphone or tablet! Games like these are made to train your brain and help rebuild vital cognitive skills.
If a stroke survivor has limited motor skills or trouble executing certain functions, robotic-assisted devices can be a viable option to aid in relearning specific movements. Primarily, these devices take the form of wearable robotics and robotic exoskeletons — items that can be directly connected to the body to assist or facilitate movement.
Non-robotic devices provide support for a wide range of activities, enabling the user to practice different exercises on a daily basis, while conditioning multiple parts of the body to become better able to execute functional movement in the future. The SaeboMAS is an arm support for survivors experiencing shoulder weakness, and helps with functional tasks and exercise drills. The SaeboGlove and SaeboFlex, for survivors with less and more muscle tone in their hands, respectively, help with grasp and release exercises and functional use of the affected hand. The SaeboStim Micro uses the power of electrical stimulation to address impaired function, weakness and spasticity in the arm and hand. The SaeboStep is crucial for survivors experiencing foot drop to walk with comfort, convenience, clearance and support that splints and braces cannot provide.
Virtual reality is a new field of development that has emerged over the past ten years. In this form of therapy, a survivor is immersed into a virtual realm in real time, with the use of interactive software and motion sensors. These virtual reality simulations can be used as a highly engaging way of relearning activities of daily living (ADL).
The SaeboVR is the first device of its kind to facilitate rehabilitation by engaging the user’s affected upper limbs in a variety of simulated functional tasks, such as shopping for groceries, cooking meals, walking a dog, watering plants, etc. These ADL exercises can also be customized to test a survivor’s endurance, speed, coordination, and cognitive abilities.
The progress being made on this frontier is innovative to say the least, and a survivor may gain a great deal of functional ability by incorporating these technologies into their routine, especially if other methods aren’t showing sufficient results.
No matter what stage of the recovery process you or a loved one may be facing, there are a host of exciting technologies that are truly helpful and beneficial. After consulting with a doctor to discover what areas of development are needed, weigh your options to see if any of these products will be a good fit.
The most important ingredient in any stroke recovery process is routine, but remember that all cases of stroke are different. What works for some people may not work for everyone, so explore until you find something that works for you.
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.