For us to feel balanced we rely on information from three sources: vision, muscles and joints together with the vestibular organs in the inner ears. Receiving accurate information from these about how we relate to the surrounding environment makes it possible for us to switch on the muscles that control our eyes, head, neck, trunk and legs so that we stay upright and have clear vision when we are moving. A person can become very disorientated if the sensory input from one of these sources conflict.
Until relatively recently the consensus was that the brain was a fixed structure that couldn’t change much over time. Thus stroke damage was seen as irreparable. However, leaps and bounds in neuroscience over the past few years have shown that the brain is a much more fluid and flexible structure than we previously believed. The neuroplasticity of the brain is truly remarkable and largely thanks to Paul Bach-y-Rita, it is now common knowledge. The ability of the brain to “re-wire” itself by creating new connections and reassigning neural circuits for different tasks explains how the brain can re-organise itself to recover at least some of the movement abilities that are lost after a stroke.
For a long time, scientists believed that the adult brain was a fixed structure and that it couldn’t change much over time. This was why there was a belief that recovery could only happen during the period immediately after a stroke. However, the amazing developments in neuroscience over the past few years have shown that the brain is a much more flexible and responsive structure than we previously believed.
Having a stroke is a sudden and shocking experience. Whilst in hospital, people who have had strokes usually get treatment from neurological physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists. Treatment is most effective when delivered in stroke units.
However, with the pressure on hospital beds, people will often get an early supported discharge with treatment continuing at home. Rehabilitation at home in this way should be a continuation of the stroke rehabilitation done in hospital. Unfortunately, there are often gaps in the provision of service. Delays are common, reducing the intensity of treatment and therefore optimum recovery.
What an exciting time this is for heads up! A new website, blog launch and Emma back from maternity leave in September. I started heads up! in 1997 and am still as passionate about my work today. We have grown to a team of five specialist neuro physios, always providing individual, hands on treatment.
Looking for someone to come along to your group and talk about neurological rehabilitation? We give talks to a number of local groups supporting people who have had strokes, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Please get in touch if you would like us to come along to your support group.
For many people the Bobath concept is a new idea, however it has been practised for over 80 years. It is based upon two key principles:
- People with neurological problems can improve their movement skills.
- The importance of treating the body holistically.
First developed by Berta Bobath MBE PhD (Hon), she had come to the UK from Germany in the 1930s with her Czech husband, a neurologist and psychiatrist. She specialised in neurological disorders and set up a centre for children with cerebral palsy.