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.
However, this re-organisation doesn’t happen by magic. Neurological physiotherapy works by specifically targeting stimulation of the brain through moving and activating limbs and muscles. This directed movement stimulates the brain to re-organise itself in the most efficient and functional way.
Of course, a patient’s progress is dependent on many factors, apart from the amount and quality of early stroke rehabilitation treatment, such as:
• The severity of the stroke
• The amount of time that has passed since the stroke happened
• The patient’s determination to improve and their willingness and abilityto do individually designed exercises outside treatment sessions
• The support of a spouse and/or family members.
It’s also important to realise that a stroke is a potentially deteriorating condition. If a stroke has been severe and a person doesn’t have continuing neurological physiotherapy treatment, then they may well get stiffer and their movement repertoire, balance and confidence are likely to decrease. At heads up! we treat everyone as an individual, working with our patients to create tailored treatment programmes. We are also here for continual, support, advice, information and encouragement.
The heads up! team support people in early stroke rehabilitation, read our patients stories to find out more.