A stoke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood to the brain. Everyday in Alberta 15 new stroke cases occur.  Nationally about 50,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year and another 300,000 are living with the effects of stroke. The physical results depend on how much damage is done and where. Your ability to speak, move, walk, balance, and perform normal daily activities can be severely affected or even lost. After a stroke about 75% of sufferers live with physical problems limiting their ability to live independently or return to normal activities.

Causes of stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to part of the brain is cut off by a blocked or burst blood vessel in the brain. Your brain then loses oxygen. If your brain cells don't get enough oxygen, they die. Family history of stroke or heart disease can increase your stroke risk as can lifestyle factors like diet, being overweight, smoking, and lack of exercise. In some cases there is no obvious cause. 

How physiotherapists help

As key players in stroke rehabilitation, physiotherapists assess how the stroke has affected you, your ability to move, sit, stand, and walk. Right after the stroke, your physiotherapist will:

  • Work with you to regain movement and mobility
  • Help you recover movement in the affected limbs
  • Work to retrain basic mobility like getting out-of-bed, sitting-up       
  • Provide exercises and specific movement retraining

Your physiotherapist will:

Work with you (and your family) to set longer-term recovery goals to become as physically independent as possible. Treatment may include:

  • Progression to standing, walking, stair climbing
  • Limb and trunk strengthening exercises
  • Help with finding assistive devices (e.g., walkers, bath rails, lifts) to achieve safe and independent function 

Throughout your recovery, your physiotherapist will continually monitor progress and adjust the rehabilitation program to your recovery goals. Upon discharge from hospital, physiotherapy treatment may continue in a community health clinic, in the home or in a private clinic.

Find a physiotherapist to help you following a stroke.