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Physical Therapy After A Stroke: A Comprehensive Guide

Physical Therapy After A Stroke: A Comprehensive Guide
Shweta Chaubey

A stroke changes the meaning of a normal life. It impacts you in multiple ways, making the recovery unquestionable. One crucial aspect of stroke recovery is physical therapy.

Physical therapy after a stroke is a vital component of rehabilitation that helps one regain mobility, strength, and independence.

Importance of physical therapy after a stroke

Physical therapy helps stroke survivors relearn movement and regain mobility. The use of exercises improves the function of affected limbs and reduces the impact of the stroke.

Role of a physical therapist in stroke rehabilitation

A physical therapist is an expert who helps stroke patients with movement and rehabilitation. Their goal is to help patients become independent and active after a stroke. They evaluate patients to understand their specific needs and then create a customized treatment plan with exercises to improve their movement. They focus on motion, flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination.

Physical therapists also educate patients on their condition and recovery. They teach exercises to practice at home between therapy sessions. With the right mix of hands-on therapy and home exercises, physical therapists enable patients to regain control of their lives after a stroke.

What are the benefits of physical therapy after a stroke

Physical therapy after a stroke helps -

  • Boost functional abilities and quality of life
  • Improves balance, coordination, and mobility
  • Regain the movement and strength of the affected side
  • Relearn basic activities like sitting, standing, and walking
  • Prevent complications like contractures, spasticity, and shoulder pain
  • Gain more independence with daily tasks like dressing, grooming, and bathing

How soon after a stroke should you start physical therapy?

Physical therapy must begin as early as possible once the patient is given clearance by their doctor. Early rehabilitation helps counteract the lingering effects of stroke and offers better outcomes in the long run.

According to the American Stroke Association, physical therapy should start within 2 days after the stroke or when the patient can partake in active exercise. Moving around as early as possible helps prevent complications like pneumonia, blood clots, and pressure sores that may prolong recovery.

In acute care hospitals, physical therapists usually see patients within the first three days post-stroke. They may start with simple exercises in bed, then progress to sitting, standing, and walking.

Subsequently, outpatient physical therapy typically begins about 7-14 days after being discharged from the hospital. But for patients with mild effects, outpatient rehab may start within 48 hours after returning home.

Common approaches to physical therapy after stroke

Some commonly used approaches by physical therapists for stroke rehabilitation include -

  • Range of motion exercises for joint mobility
  • Stretching for increasing and maintaining flexibility
  • Strengthening exercises using weights, resistance bands, etc., to rebuild muscle strength
  • Gait training using assistive devices like walkers or canes to relearn walking
  • Balance and coordination drills like sitting/standing without support
  • Neuromuscular stimulation using electric stimulation to activate weak muscles
  • Functional training, such as practicing everyday tasks like cooking, dressing, driving

The therapy techniques will evolve throughout recovery as abilities improve. Your therapist tailors the treatment program to help patients with their specific problems.

For how long does one need physical therapy after a stroke?

The duration and frequency of physical therapy depends on the severity of the stroke, effects of it, and the recovery speed. Generally, acute rehabilitation starts in the hospital and continues for 2-4 weeks post-discharge.

Whereas outpatient rehab typically involves 2-3 sessions of 1-3 hours per week for about six months. Mild strokes may require less intensive therapy. However, those with significant impairment may require an ongoing physical therapy program to maintain their functions.

Physical therapy for stroke patients at home

In addition to the supervised therapy, the physical therapist also prescribes a customized exercise program to help a person stay active at home.

It includes simple stretches, strengtheners, and balance activities that the patient can perform for 30 minutes daily at home. In such rehab programs, family members play a key role in encouraging the patient to practice regularly.

Your therapist may also prescribe some fitness and daily aids to make the recovery easier. HPFY offers a wide range of rehabilitation products, including daily living aids, fitness supplies, and pain relief products that can help you in recovering from a stroke.

Products That Can Help In Stroke Recovery


What is the average recovery time from a stroke?

The recovery trajectory can vary significantly from person to person after a stroke. However, many drastic improvements are visible in the first three months post-stroke. Mild residual effects may continue improving for up to 1 year.

While gains can occur anytime, most functional progress occurs within the first six months.

Physical therapy facilitates both short and long-term recovery for survivors of stroke. A customized rehab program can help patients regain mobility, independence, and quality of life. While healing takes time, dedication, and patience, physical therapy provides the tools and support for returning to an active and fulfilling life after a stroke.


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HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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