Stroke and Exercise
Written by Adrian Choy, Exercise Physiologist at Blacktown. Article from July 2019
Why you should exercise after a stroke
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood stops or significantly reduces flow in the brain. There is a loss of blood to parts of the brain and as a result, brain cells are damaged leading to impaired neurological function. A person who has experienced a stroke are commonly left with paresis (partial paralysis), paralysis, stiff muscles, muscle spasms and the inability to control muscle movement, usually in one side of the body. This often has a detrimental effect on person’s ability to complete daily activities or participate in social/ community events of everyday life to some extent.
What are the signs?
There is an abrupt impairment in brain function, leading to immediate muscle weakness (one side of the face may start drooping), slurred speech, difficulty seeing, muscular instability, lack of balance and coordination and paralysis on one side causing lack of coordination.
Should I exercise?
Exercise is crucial part of recovery post stroke for numerous reasons like reducing risk of another adverse event, to address physical limitations commonly associated with stroke and to target other co-morbidities which may have negative effect on overall health. It is for this reason engaging in physical rehabilitation is necessary part of lifestyle change and to ensure good quality of life and independence. The individualized exercise prescription by the accredited exercise physiologist will incorporate strength and aerobic type training which has been shown to be the most beneficial approach. The functional limitations such as mobility loss, diminished muscular strength and endurance of upper/lower limb, reduced balance and coordination and altered gait, will be targeted to increase ability to complete activities of daily living, continue to engage in social events and minimize
What exercises should I be doing?
Each person and their needs are different based on the limitations present which is why it is the best to book and attend an initial assessment with one of the exercise physiologists. It will involved detailed physical assessment alongside an interview to gather as much information to then provide with individualized treatment plan to help achieve goals and ensure healthier lifestyle change.