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Take Charge of Your Recovery

Be Diligent about Lower-Body Conditioning after Stroke

Stroke rehabilitation therapies and lower-extremity training have advanced in recent years with improved technology. Many of these advances are the result of what researchers are learning about brain recovery and neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to adjust after injury. Physical therapists can now develop rehabilitation protocols and use technologies that are similar to conditioning for an athlete post-sports injury. For example, therapists now can record gait training in the clinic on video, import it into a computer and using software break down the gait cycle. This allows them to design therapy that can target deficient muscle groups and help the patient see before and after progress. This is the same high-tech way athletes train to enhance performance and increasingly PTs are recognizing its power for stroke therapy.

Take Responsibility

When preparing for lower body conditioning after a stroke it is important to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic and set a Time frame). Once goals are set, the mindset – or work ethic – of the stroke survivor must mirror that of the athlete. Athletes perform purpose-driven exercise and as a stroke survivor so should you. The success of your recovery plan rests on you.

There are three qualities that all top athletes and stroke survivors share when preparing for their training or stroke recovery. They must:

  • Acquire a strong desire to succeed and are passionate about their goals.
  • Maintain an open minded attitude about how to develop skills to do the best job possible.
  • Ensure each movement or exercise strategy has purpose toward goals.

Dedication – Not Fancy Equipment – Brings Results

If you don’t have access to the new stroke therapy technologies, don’t get discouraged. Traditional strength, balance and gait training on land or using treadmills and other tools are still very effective. With and without the use of assistive devices these methods have proven to get results for stroke survivors that are motivated to get the job done.

If you desire to get back your independence and confidence, the most important factor in any exercise program is compliance. It doesn’t matter if you paid thousands for your home exercise equipment , robotic device or functional electrical stim unit or you simply invested a few dollars on an exercise ball, band or tubing. What matters most is that you use it regularly and with purpose.

In today's changing health care system, with lowered reimbursements and shorter treatment times, emphasis on home-based training continues to increase. As a stroke survivor, it is critical for you to understand the importance of continuing with the right exercise for your condition to get the most benefit. It is your responsibility to put in the time, effort and dedication to recover to your fullest.

By: David Dansereau, MSPT, Stroke survivor, physical therapist and private practitioner in Providence, R.I.

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"It doesn't matter if you paid thousands for your home exercise equipment or you simply invested a few dollars on an exercise ball, band or tubing. What matters most is that you use it regularly and with purpose."

Home-Based Exercise

It’s Simple to get Started

Elastic resistance or exercise tubing is ideal for the home setting because of its portability, cost and effectiveness (yes, even elite athletes use it because it works!). Several accessories are available to assist home exercisers, such as exercise handles, door anchors and portable gyms and flexibility tools. For more information on effective home resistive exercise programs using an exercise ball, bands visit my-physical-therapy-coach.com and click on the “Stroke Coach” link.

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