Stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain (ischemic stroke), other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). Because stroke occurs rapidly and requires immediate treatment, stroke is also known as a brain attack. The effects of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is injured, and how severely it is injured. Strokes may cause sudden weakness, loss of sensation, or difficulty with speaking, seeing, or walking. Since different parts of the brain control different areas and functions, it is usually the area immediately surrounding the stroke that is affected.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in India. As per the latest statistics the estimated adjusted prevalence rate of stroke range from 84-262/100,000 in rural and 334-424/100,000 in urban areas. The incidence rate is 119-145/100,000 based on the recent population based studies. There is also a wide variation in case fatality rates with the highest being 42% in Kolkata.
Crucial Role Occupational Therapists’ Play
Receiving quality occupational therapy treatment and intervention can significantly improve a stroke patient’s recovery. Research indicates that patients who work with Occupational Therapists (OT’s) are more likely to regain function in their daily lives and are better equipped to return to independent living.
Occupational Therapists are essential in helping patients discover new ways of living that benefit themselves and their families. Occupational by its name, as is clear refers to things/skills needed to perform daily activities such as ability to maintain balance, concentrate, retain information, and even reach for an object. The goal of the therapist is to improve sensory and motor activities that are damaged to relearn these basic movements.
Speech-Language Pathology’s Role in Stroke Recovery
Stroke recovery is a complex process that varies from one patient to other. Because of this, Speech-Language Pathologists play an important role in a stroke patient’s rehabilitation. However, with one fourth of stroke patients suffering from language impairments, a Speech-Language Pathologist usually plays a sizable role in most stroke patient’s recovery. Here are a few of the responsibilities you can expect them to take part in during the recovery process.
Help patients relearn how to communicate
Depending on which area of the brain is affected by the stroke, patients may either have difficulty communicating their thoughts through words or writing, or have difficulty understanding spoken or written language. Either way, Speech-Language Pathologist’s are equipped to help both of these conditions. They use different techniques and exercises to help patients circumvent their disabilities such as making symbol cue cards or simply repeating phrases with their patient. All of this is done with the end goal of helping the patient relearn their communication skills or learn new methods of communicating.
Help patients with self-awareness
In fact Speech-Language Pathologists go well beyond Speech and Language therapy. They help stroke patients regain their self-awareness, right from helping a patient learn that they don’t swallow all of their food during meals to how to comb their hair. A Speech-Language Pathologist may set up different daily challenges such as basic cleaning, to personal grooming to help a patient recover their self-awareness. These skills will help a stroke survivor’s day to day life become less frustrating as their recovery goes on. The extensive duties of a speech-language pathologist in stroke recovery differ with each patient, but for every patient they make an incredible difference.
Benefits of Occupational & Speech Therapy
Improvement in Quality of Life
The primary benefit of speech and occupational therapy is improvement in the quality of life. With the help of occupational therapy, patients sensory and motor abilities can be improved where survivor can relearn their valuable skills like cooking, using a computer, grooming, and other activities they do in normal life. Speech therapy helps in the improvement in the patient’s speech which they have lost after stroke.
Learning strategies to overcome challenges
Therapists teach survivors to overcome the challenges via different strategies via practical strategies. They teach them how to divide the complex challenges into smaller parts to solve and overcome. Patients also learn how to compensate for their new abilities and strategize to overcome challenges.
Coping with challenges and returning to routine activities
Therapists address the challenges brought on by stroke which may include physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges. Therapists help stroke patients to identify the activities they need or want to do and then will show strategies that help them return to most of their favourite activities.