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A stroke is when an area of the brain is deprived of its blood supply for 24 hours or more – usually because of a blockage or burst blood vessel – causing vital brain tissue to die.

It’s essentially the same as what happens in the arteries leading to the heart when someone has a heart attack, which is why a stroke is sometimes described as a ‘brain attack’.

Every year over 130,000 people in the UK have a stroke and it is the single most common cause of severe disability. More than 250,000 people live with disabilities caused by stroke and recovery can be long and challenging. It is well researched that Physiotherapy can help facilitate neural reorganisation through movement retraining.

The first goal of any physiotherapy intervention is to carry out a detailed assessment to understand the problems related to movement, including assessing sensory problems, muscle strength, posture and balance. Stroke physiotherapy can have positive effects in all of these areas.

Treatment in our clinic involves facilitating the recovery of normal movement patterns and encouraging active movement and involvement from the patient. Working to improve balance and independence is a large part of stroke physiotherapy and many patients will still show potential for increased mobility even a long time following their stroke.

There are two main types of stroke:


Ischaemic stroke

In this, the most common type of stroke, the artery is blocked by a blood clot, which interrupts the brain’s blood supply (ischaemia means to restrain blood in Greek). This may be due to a cerebral thrombosis (sometimes called a thrombotic stroke) where a blood clot forms in the main artery leading to the brain, or to a cerebral embolism (sometimes called an embolic stroke) in which a blood clot forms elsewhere in the body and is swept into the arteries serving the brain.


Haemorrhagic stroke

In this type of stroke a blood vessel in or around the brain ruptures causing bleeding, or a haemorrhage. The build up of blood presses on the brain damaging its delicate tissue, while other brain cells in the area are starved of blood and damaged. In an intra-cerebral haemorrhage the bleeding occurs inside the brain itself. In a subarachnoid haemorrage the burst blood vessel bleeds into the subarachnoid space surrounding the brain.


Physiotherapy for Stroke

This is a specialised type of physiotherapy treatment where the goal is to maximise the recovery of function in individuals who have suffered a stroke and so have difficulty controlling the messages from the brain to the muscles so movement is difficult or impossible.

Problems people with stroke have may include:

  • Movement problems
  • Balance
  • Gait problems
  • Weakness
  • Poor sensation
  • Tight muscles
  • Speech and Language problems
  • Swallowing difficulties.

The focus of Physiotherapy will be to facilitate improvement in the following:

  • Muscle strength and control
  • Sensation and proprioception (awareness of body in space)
  • Functional ability – reach and grasp, in and out of bed, transfers
  • Walking re-education.

The Neuro team at Hallamshire Physiotherapy are all experienced in the treatment and rehabilitation of stroke patients at all stages of their recovery process. Please contact us to see if we can help.

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