Tuesday, February 12th, 2019
Navigating the stages of stroke recovery is a personal, individualized process. During this transition, stroke therapy and treatment programs should be fine-tuned to each person’s specific needs and lifestyle. Stroke treatment at home offers familiarity and comfort during a time of great stress. Home therapy can incorporate all the necessary exercises for rehabilitation while remaining flexible and adaptable to a survivor’s schedule, needs, and preferences.
In order to receive home health therapy, a stroke survivor needs to be “homebound”, meaning it’s difficult to leave your home and you need help doing so. The stroke survivor needs skilled care by at least one therapy service including physical therapy, speech therapy, and/or occupational therapy. Home therapy for stroke patients combines an array of activities and exercises to improve function.
As mentioned, a stroke survivor will receive at least one, if not all therapy services. Home health physical therapy and occupational therapy focus on increasing movement of the arms, legs, and/or trunk, to support the everyday activities interrupted by a stroke. Agility, balance, and strengthening throughout the body can also improve mobility and function. Home health occupational therapy is also to help stroke survivors to re-learn or develop adaptive strategies for the skills of daily living, such as eating or dressing. Home health speech therapy’s goal is to help the stroke survivor regain language and communication skills as well as address any swallowing issues. It is important for the stroke survivor to follow the guidelines set by the home health therapists; furthermore, a stroke survivor needs to be a self-advocate and explore activities and technologies to facilitate better recovery.
In recent years rehab devices have become not only more effective but more affordable, paving the way to home usage. There are numerous evidence-based technologies that can help expedite a better recovery for a stroke survivor. Up to 38 percent of stroke survivors experience a condition known as spasticity. Range-of-motion therapies are commonly introduced to relieve stiff joints and spasticity-related discomfort, but oftentimes these are not enough used alone. Orthotics like the SaeboStretch and the SaeboFlex can support a spastic hand, encouraging movement and increasing function while still remaining affordable.
Mirror box therapy is another effective tool to use in the home environment for stroke rehabilitation. The mirror box is used to create a reflection of the stroke survivor’s non-affected arm or hand in place of the affected side. The mirror image “tricks” the brain into thinking the affected arm is moving like the unaffected arm. The Saebo Mirror Box is a simple and effective therapy tool used to treat motor dysfunction at a very affordable price.
The SaeboMAS mini is the ideal home program solution to assist with improving strength, motor recovery, and independence. Clients will be able to perform functional exercises with greater ease and minimal compensation. Additionally, this personal device allows for enhanced independence for self-care, leisure, or occupational tasks like using a computer, eating, drinking, or grooming.
Video games—particularly those designed for post-stroke rehabilitation—mirror the necessary repetition that taps into the brain’s neuroplasticity, enabling patients to re-learn important movements. The type of game is less relevant to the rehabilitation (younger patients may enjoy first-person shooter games while older patients prefer interactive card games) than the movements necessitated by gameplay. If the movements remain consistent each time the game is played, repeated play will reinforce these movements in the same area of the brain and body.
Changes in physicality are not the only symptoms that arise from a stroke. Memory issues, depression, and difficulty communicating are all quite common as well. Because these issues understandably impede rehabilitation, it’s crucial to take them as seriously as physical impairments.
A stroke can interfere with long and short-term memory by disrupting specific neurological pathways. These memory gaps can make the completion of common daily activities, such as preparing food, reading a book, or brushing your teeth difficult. Some survivors also struggle with recognizing objects or how to use them, which disrupts their daily life and gets in the way of clear communication.
In the same way that our brains can rewire themselves to regain physical function, memory can return as well. These interrupted pathways can rebuild during in-home therapy through the use of repetitive and—most importantly—enjoyable memory exercises. Technology can be of use here as well. Stroke rehabilitation apps that stimulate the mind can help with cognitive function and the ability to remember details of everyday tasks. Luminosity is a brain training app that is not designed specifically for stroke survivors, but it can improve memory and increase focus. Constant Therapy is another app that features exercises specifically designed to help people regain cognition, memory, attention, and problem-solving skills after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Language issues are common impairments following a stroke. Aphasia, the neurological inability to speak or understand language normally, occurs in 25 to 40 percent of stroke survivors. Losing language affects all interactions in life, both with loved ones and with doctors, amplifying the confusion and frustration of the healing process. For this reason, speech is a crucial focal point of early recovery.
In more serious cases, it may be necessary to visit a speech therapist to regain full use of language. The speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, work with the patient’s ability to create and understand words. Between sessions, and later in the healing process, at-home therapy—including supportive apps and technology—assists with this journey as well. Tactus therapy is designed specifically for stroke survivors with aphasia. Using the app for 20 minutes a day, 4 times a week can improve aphasia up to 250%.
Most stroke survivors are put on multiple forms of medication. It is important to monitor not only the effectiveness of these medications but the negative side effects. It is often beneficial to keep a log of daily behavior and symptoms and report any abnormalities to your doctor as soon as possible. Also, a medication organizer can be an effective way to ensure a dose of a medication is not duplicated or missed.
Before a stroke survivor comes home it is advised that the home environment is set up for optimal safety. Removing unnecessary objects and clutter can greatly reduce the probability of a fall. Items such as grab bars, shower chairs, and raised toilet seats may also be a way to increase safety.
Home health is an effective way for a stroke survivor to enjoy the comforts of his/her own home while still receiving therapy. Utilizing the latest breakthroughs in stroke technologies can facilitate increased recovery from a stroke. Evidence-based rehabilitation techniques and tools, like the ones offered by Saebo and Saebo-trained therapists, offer stroke survivors the latest technology that they can use in the comfort of their own home at an affordable price. Here at Saebo, we are committed to stroke support and recovery for all survivors and their families. Saebo offers a wide range of products that combine cutting-edge technology with evidence-based rehabilitation techniques. Our offerings and network of Saebo-trained therapists can help you or a loved one to obtain all the necessary tools to maximize stroke recovery.
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.