Posts Tagged plateau

[BLOG POST] 6 Ways to Get Past Plateau After Stroke

Past Plateau After Stroke

The road to recovery after stroke is not always a straight line. Oftentimes there is rapid recovery during the first three months, but then the progress slows down. This eventually leads to a plateau in recovery after about six months.

In a scenario where varying levels of paralysis are common, a shift in mindset and making little changes to lifestyle is all it takes to break the plateau. This blog offers few tips that can help you dissect that plateau and get past it.

1. Understand the root-cause

In order to break out of the plateau, it helps to understand what causes it to begin with. Some of the most significant functional improvements often occur during the early days, reflecting the initial plasticity of the brain. However, after few days, you may feel that the initial spike in progress was the end of rehabilitation and that there is no further improvement possible. But for many stroke survivors, the plateau phase is quite common and even to be expected. Understanding this will help both the stroke survivor and caregiver to avoid losing hope and persistence during this difficult time.

2. Revise your workout regime

If you aren’t making any progress, you might need something new and different to jump-start it back into rehabilitation mode. Traditional therapy that isn’t evidence-based can be ineffective and can actually cause a plateau. Thus, familiar exercises must be altered and adjusted. Try switching up your workout intensity, duration, frequency or exercises you do. For that, you will be needing your therapist’s expert guidance.

3. Find the right therapist

If the therapist isn’t modifying the treatment to your specific needs and incorporating the latest proven interventions because he hasn’t been trained in them, perhaps, it’s time to try a new therapist. Your new therapist should be able to prescribe a new evidence-based technique.

With the help of your therapist, learn to set SMART goal(s): specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When you’re working systematically toward something, your motivation will stay high. After all, the recently damaged brain is taking the necessary time to heal and regrow. And, this requires setting relevant, short-term goals.

4. Learn and try new things

Along with making changes to your regimen (as recommended by the therapist, of course), pick a new skill you want to learn (like playing piano) and practice that. Simple changes like this will initiate Neuroplasticity and help you get past Plateau.

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Be part of the relevant research studies (only if your therapist allows you). It may not always work, but you may just luck out with a great new treatment. It’s also not a bad idea to join a stroke group.

5. Track your progress

Tracking everything is essential to making the stroke rehabilitation work for you. Take your current measurements to get a more accurate view of the progress made. Track these measures and compare them to your most recent stats. Apart from tracking your functional performance, it’s also wise to keep track of your:

  1. Daily meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and snacks
  2. Exercise and activity
  3. BMI (Body Mass Index)
  4. Water/hydration

6. Handle emotional changes

Stroke recovery is a long (and often slow) process. Hence, frustration, anger, and depression are understandable obstacles to encounter. If you’re tired, sick, overwhelmed, or stressed, your speech or mobility may suffer.

Don’t give up hope. Many studies show that it is possible to break plateau after stroke. Everyone recovers at different rates. It’s best not to compare your recovery to others. Hope is the most powerful drug, hold onto it.

via 6 Ways to Get Past Plateau After Stroke – 9zest

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[BLOG POST] Guide to Helping Young People Recovering From a Stroke – Saebo

If someone in your family has a stroke, you may experience a significant change in your life. That person will need great care and support, and there may be a variety of emotional and behavioral changes that you’ll have to be prepared for. This can especially be the case if the stroke occurs at a young age. Not only will a stroke survivor need guidance and encouragement, but a young person recovering from a stroke will need assistance with a wide range of other tasks. According to an article published by Stroke Research and Treatment Magazine, there are many outcomes that “are attributable to the effects of stroke on age-normative roles and activities, self-image, and the young person’s stage in the life-cycle, especially family and work. ‘Hidden’ cognitive impairments, a disrupted sense of self, and the incongruity of suffering an ‘older person’s’ disease is salient.”

Astoundingly, 10% of stroke patients are under the age of 50. The rehabilitation process after a stroke is difficult at any age, and this younger demographic of stroke patients often goes unnoticed, so it’s important to pay special attention to the particular challenges that arise in these cases. With the information provided here, combined with a proactive mindset, you can better a young survivor’s recovery experience.

7 Challenges to Consider for Younger Stroke Patients

Someone who is just starting out in life — beginning a new career, embarking on a new relationship, pursuing a degree, parenthood — must deal with the pressures of finding success and, when you add in the severity of a stroke, the weight of that pressure can be insurmountable. To gain a better perspective of what they’re going though, here are a few things to consider:

1. Loss of Employment

Having a job that provides a sense of responsibility and independence is crucial for a young person trying to find their way in the world. Working gives people purpose and fulfillment, but unfortunately, when a young person experiences a stroke, they will most likely require a substantial amount of time off. In some cases, an individual may not be able to perform their job in the same way, or they may need to stop working altogether. On the bright side, studies have shown that “most of the investigations in long-term prognosis have described good functional recovery in young adults with ischemic stroke, since most patients are independent and at least 50% return to work.

2. Financial Debt

When a stroke is experienced by someone who doesn’t have the support of a retirement fund, the financial toll can be devastating for both the individual and their family. Combine this strife with the frustration of not being able to work — not to mention that a spouse or other family members may have to stop working as well — and the task of recovery becomes even more daunting. To alleviate this issue, there are disability programs that can aid in paying for medical bills, but the approval process can be arduous, and the wait time can result in the accrual of exorbitant debt.

3. Young People Think They’re Not at Risk

One of the biggest misconceptions young people today have about strokes is that one could never happen to them. They believe that they are simply too young to have health problems that are typically associated with older people, but this is exactly why strokes are on the rise. Risk factors such as tobacco use and hypertension are prevalent among young adults and adolescents, which directly relates to a spike in ischemic strokes throughout this demographic.

4. Misdiagnosis

In conjunction with number three, medical professionals and family members are quick to incorrectly diagnosis a stroke as something else entirely, because the individual is so young. Because of this error, a person may not receive the care they need to survive. An extreme example of this occurred when a 24-year-old named Lauren Rushen suffered a stroke, and for two weeks her doctors wrote off her symptoms as an infection and inflammation. Finally, after she collapsed on the floor of her home, she was rushed to her local hospital where yet again her attack was ruled a result of substance abuse. Luckily for Lauren, she was able to recover, but others should be aware that there is only a small window of time available for a patient to maximize their chances of rehabilitation.

5. They Have a Long Life Ahead of Them

It’s important to remember that young people who experience a stroke will have time on their side, but a lot of that time will be spent adapting to their setbacks. Arrangements for physical care, mental redevelopment, and financial needs could be necessary for an extended period, especially since the rehabilitation process can last many years (or for a lifetime).

6. Insurance

Because many people are not eligible for Medicare until the age of 65, countless young people who experience a stroke may be left without coverage due to multiple factors. First of all, a young person may not even have had insurance prior to their stroke, and if they did, they will most likely become uninsured from not being able to work. The cycle of applying for Medicare and SSDI is difficult to endure, let alone while facing a debilitating ailment.

7. Family Life

For a stroke survivor who is older, family life is typically already structured around support for themselves. This means that an older person has raised their children and now has no immediate responsibility to care for someone else. However, for a younger person, the case is entirely different. A younger survivor may have small children to look after, or might have dreams of one day starting a family. Having a stroke as a young person means these plans are put on hold, or other family members may have to take on more responsibility at home. This can be incredibly stressful to deal with and affects everyone involved.

2 Key Ways to Be Proactive about Stroke Recovery in Young People

As a family member, caregiver, or stroke patient, you need to be ready to deal with the fact that stroke recovery is a serious, delicate, and lengthy process. Not only does it demand attention in all developmental areas, but it also comes along with a severe risk of mortality. In a journal published by the National Institute of Health, studies show that “the long-term prognosis for ischemic stroke in the young is better than in the elderly, but the risk of mortality in young adults with ischemic stroke is much higher than in the general population of the same age.” Taking charge of the situation can make a huge difference in ensuring a stroke survivor’s future, and two things in particular have proven to make the greatest improvements:

Put Stroke Survivors in a Position to Succeed and Prevent a Second Attack

After someone suffers a stroke, they will be faced with a tremendous array of challenges that may seem impossible to overcome. They may feel hopeless and unsure of where to begin their recovery, but this is where the diligence and support of others can make all the difference. If a loved one is going to have a successful recovery, they must be put into a position to succeed. This means that they will require a strong system of mental, physical, and emotional support from family and healthcare professionals, and it also means that certain precautions must be put into place to combat future complications. For example, practicing good habits like eating healthy foods, properly managing medication, engaging in physical activity, and monitoring current conditions can greatly lower the risk of a second attack, while improving a survivor’s current state of health. With over a quarter of stroke patients undergoing a second attack within their lifetime, maintaining good habits is essential and combining them with a consistent rehabilitation program is the surest way to generate positive and lasting results.

Address Rehabilitation as Soon as Possible

Instilling good health practices is always something to keep in mind, but what really makes an impact on a person’s recovery is the rehabilitation process. Rehabilitation is important, because it actively fights against the damage a stroke has caused. Stimulation of the muscles and the mind will aid the body in repairing its impaired functions, and over time, abilities that were lost have the potential to resume normal operation. With the help of rehabilitation, a process known as cortical plasticity begins to take place. Also referred to as neuroplasticity, cortical plasticity is the process the brain undergoes in order to form new neural connections, which leads to regained physicality. The sooner this development can begin, the better a patient’s odds of recovery will be, so working with a healthcare professional and setting goals is a top priority.

The 3 Biggest Things You Can Do to Help Young Stroke Survivors

You have to accept that a person is going to be different after a stroke and, no matter how old they are, they are going to face enormous challenges. The recovery process will no doubt be an uphill battle, but there are three things you can do that will drastically improve a young person’s chances of rehabilitation.

1. Keep Them Motivated

One of the issues that a survivor will face during stroke recovery is lethargy, so it’s important for you to impassion and motivate them whenever possible. A great way to do this is to combine their personal interests with their rehabilitation program. For example, if part of their routine is getting dressed in the morning, you can play a favorite song that will motivate them through the process and make it fun. Even the smallest displays of thoughtfulness can go a long way, so do whatever you can to make them feel loved and supported.

2. Help Them Counteract Learned Non-Use

A difficult thing to overcome for any stroke survivor is the process of learned non-use. After a stroke occurs, a person may not be properly able to move their limbs, and if their extremities aren’t exercised on a consistent basis, they are susceptible to atrophy, or muscle degeneration. To combat this issue, daily movements of the affected areas are highly encouraged. A specific method that has shown success in physical recovery is a form of therapy called Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). This technique restrains the healthy limbs while the survivor works at improving use of the damaged ones however, the survivor must meet specific criteria in order to qualify for this approach.

3. Watch Out for the Recovery Plateau Stage

A stroke survivor’s recovery will always have ups and downs, but something to be wary of is the possibility of a loved one experiencing a plateau phase during their rehabilitation. A recovery plateau refers to a period during which a stroke survivor may encounter a slowed progression in their recovery. This can happen especially if a survivor is dealing with severe physical impairments or cognitive disabilities. The most dramatic phases of recovery tend to occur during the first three to six months after a stroke, and this stage is not a given, so take heart in all the successes of that sub-acute phase to maintain enthusiasm and motivation moving forward.

We Can All Help Young Stroke Survivors Help Themselves

Regardless of a survivor’s age or degree of impairment, stroke recovery support should be offered with the utmost patience and care. Nobody can perfectly predict when a stroke will occur or how survivors and their loved ones will react, but anyone can learn how best to handle the situation, to give survivors the help they need. With the information listed above, you can become a source of encouragement for anyone who has experienced a stroke and, more importantly, you can help them regain lost abilities with dignity.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

via Guide to Helping Young People Recovering From a Stroke | Saebo

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[BLOG POST] Repetition Improves Stroke Recovery Time – Saebo

In all stages of growth and development, repetition is key to successful long-term learning and information retention. Repetition is especially beneficial for stroke survivors who seek to regain motor function, strength, and coordination. Consistent repetition that re-establishes communication between the damaged parts of the brain and the body is crucial in stroke rehabilitation.

The brain is our most complex organ and scientists still don’t fully understand it, but we have extensive evidence of one amazing capability called “neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to form new synapses, or connections between neurons, especially in response to a brain injury. The nervous system compensates for damage by reorganizing the neurons that remain intact. To form new connections, the involved neurons must be stimulated through consistent activity. Fully understanding this process—and why it works—motivates and clarifies the essential role of repetition in post-stroke rehabilitation.

Neuroplasticity Is The Ability To Heal

For our bodies to perform even the simplest tasks, networks of nerve cells, or neurons, must act in tandem to stimulate the correct parts of our bodies. However, when a stroke causes damage to an area of the brain, damaged neurons become unable to send out signals to the corresponding regions of the body. Although a stroke survivor may appear to have suffered damage to an area of the body—for example, the right arm and leg might be paralyzed—the issue actually stems from damage in the brain.

Amazingly, the brain compensates for these losses through various regenerative strategies. A common process, neuroplasticity, is something that the brain undergoes whenever we learn a new piece of information. As our environments and daily routines change throughout life, we create new synapses, or neural connections. During a healing process, the brain is even more engaged when building these new networks. Synaptic pathways are restructured to work around damaged neurons and may even relocate to entirely different areas of the brain.

Under the right circumstances, the brain can even create new neurons in a process known as neurogenesis. Any healing process requires a healthy body, to support the regeneration of cells, and neurogenesis is no different—the regenerating areas of the brain must be healthy, with the proper blood and oxygen supply, and must be activated consistently. Stroke survivors can encourage neurogenesis through frequent therapy, as well as at-home practice. Careful, diligent practice also ensures that new synapses and neurons do not lead to additional issues or symptoms.

Research has shown that stroke survivors who use repetition to promote neuroplasticity enjoy significant progress in their recovery. In one study, patients who initially struggled with grasp-and-release exercises demonstrated increased cortical reorganization after adhering to a repetitive rehabilitation regimen.

Visualize Progress And Challenge Yourself

We are only just beginning to discover the magnitude of the brain’s capabilities. Not only can the brain heal itself through proper support and repetitive exercises, but it can also respond positively to diligent and focused visualization of those same exercises. People who visualize a process can strengthen the involved synapses without performing the actual, physical motion. Visualization is a great introduction to rehabilitation for those who cannot physically complete the motions. In the early stages of regaining motor function or range-of-motion in an affected limb, it is important for stroke survivors to apply themselves to visualization with the same commitment as they would a physical exercise.

Ia 1995 study, synapses strengthened in participants who imagined completing a particular piano exercise. Even though they were not performing any physical motions, their brains still registered and retained the musical information. This principle is vital for those in the early stages of stroke recovery. Visualization bridges the gap between the motivational difficulties inherent to the early stages of rehabilitation and the more physically intense practices later on in recovery.

The transition between visualization and physical performance can be challenging. Supportive tools such as the SaeboMAS provide support to the affected limb while relieving stress from the joints and muscles involved in the exercise. By guiding the arm through its first physical motions, SaeboMAS helps the brain transition from visualization to independent task completion. Tools like SaeboMAS also encourage consistency in motion, a crucial factor when attempting such intensely repetitive action.

Once you master a repetitive action, it’s important to continue challenging yourself with an exercise routine. This is against human nature because once a task feels easy, we feel that we have succeeded; however, repetitions while on autopilot are far less beneficial than when the individual is actively focused on performing each repetition. It takes self-discipline to continue increasing the difficulty of an exercise but you can derive motivation from the support of a therapist, friends or family.

CIMT—or Constraint Induced Movement Therapy— allows for personal adjustments to the difficulty of an exercise. It’s common for those healing from motor function difficulties to avoid challenging the affected limb, overcompensating with the healthy limb to the point that the affected limb begins to deteriorate further due to non-use. Once the patient can comfortably rely on the affected limb, CIMT introduces “shaping” or “adaptive task practice”: the deconstruction of complex physical tasks into manageable steps that are added one at a time. This gradual addition of challenges deters the patient from switching to autopilot during long, repetitive sets.

A motivated and clear mindset is crucial, therefore the exercises themselves must follow a natural progression to become more challenging, while not being too frustrating. This balance comes from respecting each motion—no matter how small—as an important building block in the healing process. By remaining present in the repetitions, the brain picks up on more detailed messages from the body about what it needs. Any associated soreness or pain should be discussed with professionals to ensure that exercises are promoting healing and not inadvertently causing further damage.

Practice With Purpose

As mindfulness increases, it will become clearer which exercises are right for each particular day, depending on how the body feels. By honoring your body as your guide, you will improve your motivation and the physical progression of neuroplasticity. However, sensing what is best for the body is a tricky practice. Harder tasks may challenge a wider variety of neural networks, speeding up the healing process even when the exercise itself feels less successful.

Overall, it’s better to challenge the brain by moving beyond repetition that no longer inspires further improvement. Start small by mastering simpler tasks and skills, then immediately move on to slightly harder versions of those actions. Always maintain the same level of consistency, but with added restraint or weight. Without added challenges, the progress made through rehabilitation can be lost. It may help to view this healing process as a long-term, ongoing journey with the goal of fully rebuilding and re-strengthening connections that would otherwise be lost.

Canadian psychologist Dr. Donald Hebb claimed that “neurons that fire together, wire together,” in his 1949 book, “The Organization of Behavior.” Long before today’s societal focus on mindfulness, Dr. Hebb recognized the occurrence of neurological regrowth when an activity or thought process is repeated diligently. This observation is pertinent to unlearning less helpful habits or thought patterns, as well. If someone in rehabilitation develops a bad habit, such as injuring a healthy limb through overuse, the brain can unlearn these habits through careful repetition.

Mindfulness Leads To Motivation

The benefits of mindfulness are open to all kinds of learning. Intentional focus during practice is the only way to ensure the brain is fully present and supported for neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. During visualization, each movement should be imagined with extreme specificity as well; awareness that is too unspecific can lead to apathy and lack of concentration. Visualization can be motivating, pushing the person in rehabilitation past the plateau stage—a dispiriting time in the process in which progress stalls. Overall, the trick is to keep exercises from becoming routine. When each day is different or challenging in a new way, the brain stays engaged in ways more conducive to synaptic rehabilitation.

You Need To Move

The most important mantra for post-stroke recovery is to keep moving. Once an intention or goal has been set, consistent movement is the key to warding off muscular atrophy. As mentioned earlier, even before physical movement is possible, exercises can be completed in the brain through visualization. Begin as soon as possible after the injury to take full advantage of early neurogenesis before entering the plateau phase. Whether visualizing or physically completing an action, repetition  is the most important factor in long-term recovery.

How Much Is Enough?

The question remains, how many repetitions are enough to regain full health during stroke rehabilitation? The number of repetitions required to establish a neural pathway depends on multiple factors:

  • the type of exercise
  • the area of the body
  • the current health of the muscles, nerves, and joints

Consistent, dedicated repetition is the most important priority. Without this, the brain cannot complete the rebuilding of the neurons, networks, and capabilities it lost during the stroke.

Quality of repetitions is just as important as quantity. Practice is helpful only while remaining mindful and fully present. Concentration also bolsters motivation, especially when progress plateaus.

Together, mindfulness and repetition move those in rehabilitation past initial discomfort more quickly by strengthening the affected muscles and neurons. We now know that visualization and drive have a psychosomatic effect, speeding up rehabilitation while the brain is most susceptible to healing. Visit the Saebo blog for more information about healing after a stroke.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

via Repetition Improves Stroke Recovery Time | Saebo

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[VIDEO] Henry Hoffman Q&A Video Series: Why SaeboStim Micro? – YouTube

Published on Oct 16, 2017

Saebo, Inc. is a medical device company primarily engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of affordable and novel clinical solutions designed to improve mobility and function in individuals suffering from neurological and orthopedic conditions. With a vast network of Saebo-trained clinicians spanning six continents, Saebo has helped over 100,000 clients around the globe achieve a new level of independence.
In 2001, two occupational therapists had one simple, but powerful goal – to provide neurological clients access to transformative and life changing products.
At the time, treatment options for improving arm and hand function were limited. The technology that did exist was expensive and inaccessible for home use. With inadequate therapy options often leading to unfavorable outcomes, health professionals routinely told their clients that they have “reached a plateau” or “no further gains can be made”. The founders believed that it was not the clients who had plateaued, but rather their treatment options had plateaued.
Saebo’s commitment – “No Plateau in Sight” – was inspired by this mentality; and the accessible, revolutionary solutions began.
Saebo’s revolutionary product offering was based on the latest advances in rehabilitation research. From the SaeboFlex which allows clients to incorporate their hand functionally in therapy or at home, to the SaeboMAS, an unweighting device used to assist the arm during daily living tasks and exercise training, “innovation” and “affordability” can now be used in the same sentence.
Over the last ten years, Saebo has grown into a leading global provider of rehabilitative products created through the unrelenting leadership and the strong network of clinicians around the world. As we celebrate our history and helping more than 100,000 clients regain function, we are growing this commitment to affordability and accessibility even further by making our newest, most innovative products more accessible than ever.

 

via Henry Hoffman Q&A Video Series: Why SaeboStim Micro? – YouTube

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[WEB SITE] Strategic Training May Expand the Recovery for Traumatic Brain Injuries.

June 1, 2017

Dr. Kihwan Han

Dr. Kihwan Han

A recent study from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas shows that a certain type of instructor-led, brain training protocol can stimulate structural changes in the brain and neural connections several years after a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The findings, published in Brain and Behavior, further suggest that changes in cortical thickness and neural network connectivity may prove an effective way to quantitatively measure treatment efficacy, an ability that has not existed until now. Building upon previous research, the study challenges the widely held belief that recovery from a TBI is limited to two years after an injury.

“A TBI disrupts brain structure. These brain changes can interfere with brain network communication and the cognitive functions those networks support,” said Dr. Kihwan Han, research scientist at the Center for BrainHealth and lead author of the study.

“For people with chronic TBI, they may have trouble with daily tasks such as creating shopping lists and resolving conflicts with others for many years after the injury. These findings provide hope for people who thought, ‘This is as good as my recovery is going to get’ and for the medical community who have yet to find a way to objectively measure a patient’s recovery,” he said.

The study included 60 adults with TBI symptoms lasting an average of eight years. Participants were randomly placed into one of two cognitive training groups: strategy-based training or knowledge-based training. Over an eight-week period, the strategy-based training group learned strategies to improve attention and reasoning. The knowledge-based training group learned information about the structure and function of the brain as well as the effects of sleep and exercise on brain performance.


These findings provide hope for people who thought, ‘This is as good as my recovery is going to get’ and for the medical community who have yet to find a way to objectively measure a patient’s recovery.

Dr. Kihwan Han,
research scientist
at the Center for BrainHealth


 

Magnetic resonance imaging measured cortical thickness and resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) before training, after training and three months post-training. Previous studies have shown that cortical thickness and rsFC can be potential markers for training-induced brain changes.

Individuals in the strategy-based reasoning training showed a greater change in cortical thickness and connectivity compared to individuals who received the knowledge-based training. Changes in cortical thickness and functional connectivity also correlated to an individual’s ability to switch between tasks quickly and consistently to achieve a specific goal.

“People who showed the greatest change in cortical thickness and connectivity, showed the greatest performance increases in our cognitive tasks,” Han said. “Perhaps future studies could investigate the added benefit of brain stimulation treatments in combination with cognitive training for individuals with chronic TBI who experience problems with attention, memory or executive functions.”

The work was supported by the Department of Defense, the Meadows Foundation and the Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Award.

via Strategic Training May Expand the Recovery for Traumatic Brain Injuries – News Center – The University of Texas at Dallas

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[VIDEO] SaeboStim Micro Combined with Mirror Therapy – YouTube

 

Saebo, Inc. is a medical device company primarily engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of affordable and novel clinical solutions designed to improve mobility and function in individuals suffering from neurological and orthopedic conditions. With a vast network of Saebo-trained clinicians spanning six continents, Saebo has helped over 100,000 clients around the globe achieve a new level of independence. In 2001, two occupational therapists had one simple, but powerful goal – to provide neurological clients access to transformative and life changing products. At the time, treatment options for improving arm and hand function were limited. The technology that did exist was expensive and inaccessible for home use. With inadequate therapy options often leading to unfavorable outcomes, health professionals routinely told their clients that they have “reached a plateau” or “no further gains can be made”. The founders believed that it was not the clients who had plateaued, but rather their treatment options had plateaued. Saebo’s commitment – “No Plateau in Sight” – was inspired by this mentality; and the accessible, revolutionary solutions began. Saebo’s revolutionary product offering was based on the latest advances in rehabilitation research. From the SaeboFlex which allows clients to incorporate their hand functionally in therapy or at home, to the SaeboMAS, an unweighting device used to assist the arm during daily living tasks and exercise training, “innovation” and “affordability” can now be used in the same sentence. Over the last ten years, Saebo has grown into a leading global provider of rehabilitative products created through the unrelenting leadership and the strong network of clinicians around the world. As we celebrate our history and helping more than 100,000 clients regain function, we are growing this commitment to affordability and accessibility even further by making our newest, most innovative products more accessible than ever.

via SaeboStim Micro Combined with Mirror Therapy – YouTube

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[WEB SITE] 17 Ways To Help Stroke Survivors Recover Faster – Saebo

If you or a loved one has suffered from a stroke, there are many difficulties that can develop as a result. Primarily, these effects are physical, emotional, and cognitive.

Below, we provide tips on how to overcome these common post-stroke conditions. Keep in mind that dealing with the aftermath of a stroke can be frustrating, but with patience and consistent effort, considerable progress can be made.

 

 

Tip 1. Recognize Symptoms of Stroke

One of the most important ways to successfully recover from stroke, is by taking preventative measures such as knowing and recognizing the symptoms of a stroke because immediate treatment can be life saving and greatly affects the chances for a full recovery. Unfortunately the chances of a second stroke occurring increases in stroke survivors. According to The National Stroke Association, about 25% of stroke survivors will experience a second stroke. Within the first 5 years after the first stroke, risk of a second stroke is about 40% higher. Fortunately it is estimated that of all secondary strokes, about 80% of them are preventable with lifestyle changes and medical intervention. Read more about recognizing the symptoms of stroke in men and in women to better prepare you to act FAST.

 

Tip 2. Walking Again and Foot Drop

Foot drop is the difficulty or inability to lift the front part of the foot because of fatigue or damage affecting the muscles and nerves that aid in its movement. To combat this, using a brace or Ankle-foot Orthoses (AFO) has proven to be a major aid in rehabilitation. These devices prevent the front of the foot from dipping down and disrupting walking movements.

Leg exercises described in this supplementary post after experiencing a stroke are crucial for recovery. While each patient should have a custom exercise routine, personalized for you, there are several exercises that should be included in most every stroke survivor’s regimen. These low-impact strength and stretching leg exercises for stroke recovery are a good complement to use in conjunction with the Saebo MyoTrac Infiniti biofeedback system.

Richard Sealy, director of The Rehab Practice, a private neuro-therapy rehabilitation program in the United Kingdom, regularly works with individuals, families, and caregivers to establish custom exercise routines to aid in recovery from long-term neurological problems, like the damage caused by stroke. While he acknowledges that each patient should have a custom exercise routine specific and personal to their struggles, he recommends a series of exercises for anyone working to strengthen their legs and improve range of motion during stroke recovery.

Rehabilitation of the legs and feet can occur at a faster rate with a combination of the aforementioned exercises and orthopedic aids such as the SaeboStep.The SaeboStep is a unique foot drop brace worn on the outside of the shoe that assists with lifting the toes when walking. It is made to eliminate cumbersome, unreliable splints and braces placed within the shoe.

 

Tip 3. Dealing with Curled Toes

Often referred to as “curled toes” or “claw toe,” this symptom is caused by a miscommunication between the brain and muscles within the foot. This misfiring of signals causes an issue with controlling muscular movements, leading to over-contracting of the toes and spasticity, a condition where there is a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles in the toes, causing them to over contract.

The best way to regain strength and movement while dealing with this condition is to create a routine with a variety of exercises—toe taps, floor grips, finger squeezes, and toe-extensor strengthening. With effort and repetition, these workouts can make a huge difference in recovery.

 

Tip 4. Lack of Arm Function

One of the most common deficiencies following a stroke is the impairment of the arm and hand. This typically results in decreased strength, coordination, and range of motion. Those affected are often unable to support their own arms in order to perform rehabilitation exercises. When this occurs it is crucial that you include additional arm support during rehabilitation to avoid the arms becoming weaker due to learned non-use.

Learned non-use occurs when a stroke survivor prefers to use their strong arm because it is easier to move. This tendency makes it even more difficult for a stroke survivor to recover, because challenging the weakened arm with these exercises plays a crucial role in regaining arm function. Often physical therapists and occupational therapists use a technique known as Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (or CIMT) to challenge a weakened shoulder and make further exercises and drills possible. Mobile arm supports such as the SaeboMAS and SaeboMAS mini help support the weight of the arm, allowing the user to do a much wider range of exercises. For more information about the SaeboMAS and how it can aid in stroke recovery click here.

As with rehabilitating any part of the body with reduced function after a stroke, it is important to consistently repeat the exercises and stretches to strengthen the brain-muscle connections. It is also important to stay positive and try to have fun with your rehab. Here are 35 fun rehab activities for stroke patients to help keep you motivated.

 

Tip 5. Hand Paralysis

Paralysis is the inability of a muscle to move voluntarily. The National Stroke Association sites as many as 9 out of 10 stroke survivors have some degree of paralysis following a stroke. Rehabilitation and therapy can help to regain voluntary movement, even several years after the stroke takes place.

The primary symptoms of hand paralysis are spasticity (stiff muscles), weakness, and lack of coordination. Fortunately, there are several methods of treatment in addition to therapy to help manage and recover from spasticity. Additional treatments include medications to relax muscles, botox injections (relaxes muscles temporarily), stretching exercises, anti-spasticity orthotics, and functional orthoses. Surgery is another option in the most severe cases.

The least invasive and most permanent treatment for hand paralysis is therapy to rehabilitate the connection between your brain and muscles using neuroplasticity. To make these exercises even more effective and to increase your rate of recovery, it is important to repeat your hand exercises often. By performing exercises repeatedly, you are strengthening that brain-muscle connection.

 

Tip 6. Difficulty Speaking and Communicating

Another common side effect of stroke is aphasia, which is the inability to speak or understand speech. This is one of the most frustrating side effects for survivors to deal with. It’s estimated that 25 to 40 percent of people who suffer from a stroke develop aphasia, though this condition is not limited to stroke survivors. Aphasia occurs when there is damage to the brain, specifically the left side that deals with language. There are two primary forms of aphasia: receptive aphasia and expressive aphasia. Receptive aphasia is when the individual has trouble understanding what is being said to them. Expressive aphasia is when the individual is having difficulty expressing what they want to say.

When communicating with someone with receptive aphasia, try not to use long complex sentences. When communicating with someone with expressive aphasia, it is important to be patient and remember that the person’s intelligence has not been affected by the stroke, just their ability to speak.

For those with aphasia, the most important thing you can do to improve your communication is to take a deep breath and try to relax. If you can remain relaxed and focus on what you are trying to say you will have much greater success. It is easy to get flustered or feel self conscious, but you shouldn’t. Create tools that you can use to make communication easier such as a book of words, pictures, phrases, or symbols that can help you get your message across. If you are going out and know you will not be around friends or family, it may also be helpful to carry a card or piece of paper that indicates that you have aphasia and explains what it is, just in case you find yourself needing to explain your condition.

Once these tools are set in place, seeking the help of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) can greatly increase one’s ability to regain normal speech behavior. SLPs can assist in rehabilitating all types of physical speech behavior and offer support and proper guidance for you or a loved one. Read more about aphasia and recovery here.

 

Tip 7: Coping with PTSD After Stroke

Following a stroke, it is fairly common for a survivor to experience PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This condition is usually associated with combat veterans and sexual-assault survivors; however, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One, almost a quarter of stroke survivors experience some form of PTSD.

Common symptoms of PTSD include the victim experiencing the traumatic event over and over in their head or in the form of nightmares. This replaying of the event is typically accompanied by the individual’s unyielding anxiety and feelings of self doubt or misplaced guilt over their condition. Some experience a state of hyperarousal or feelings of being overly alert.

The two main treatments for PTSD include medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications or psychotherapy. If you are experiencing PTSD, it is important that you communicate how you feel with your doctor, family, and friends, as a strong support system can help you find the relief from psychological pain that you deserve.

 

Tip 8: Understanding Fatigue

Feeling tired is a normal part of life for everyone, but for stroke survivor, fatigue is a very common symptom that can be frustrating to deal with. About 40 to 70 percent of stroke survivors experience fatigue, which can make recovering feel even more difficult. Post-stroke fatigue is draining both physically and emotionally/mentally, and rest may not be the only solution.

It is important to discuss the fatigue with a doctor so they can rule out potential medical causes or determine if fatigue might stem from current medications. By speaking with the proper medical professionals and taking time to squeeze in a nap or rest as often as possible—and by maintaining a positive mindset—you can help yourself or a loved one combat the constant drowsiness of fatigue and work on returning to pre-stroke energy levels. The key thing to realize is that some level of post-stroke fatigue is normal and that survivors need to be proactive about treating and working around it.

 

Tip 9: Counteract Learned Non-Use

If the limbs weakened after stroke are not consistently exercised over time, muscles have the potential to atrophy—waste away due to cell degeneration. This often occurs when the person tries to compensate for their weak limb by using their stronger limb more often. Daily attempts to move the affected limbs are necessary to maintain and improve functionality.One method is the use of Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). CIMT is a form of therapy that prevents the unaffected limbs from moving while trying to exercise the affected ones.

 

Tip 10: Reduce Inflammation and Stress

Inflammation in the body can cause other issues to arise, which is why it’s important to stay stress free whenever possible. When stress does begin to take hold, a hormone called cortisol floods the body, causing pH levels to become imbalanced with acidity. High acidity levels—after an extended period of time—can kill good bacteria in the body while giving rise to bad bacteria, ultimately weakening the immune system.

With that in mind, a natural probiotic like yogurt is a great way to boost good bacteria in the body. Supplemental drinks can also improve the immune system significantly. In addition to pH balance, adopting stress management exercises such as yoga, deep breathing, tai chi, qi gong, and meditation, can limit one’s cortisol levels, promoting overall health.

 

Tip 11: Coping with Emotional Effects

Experiencing a stroke is not only a major hardship to overcome physically; it can also take a huge toll on a survivor’s emotions in many ways.

If the area of your brain that controls personality or emotion is affected, you may be susceptible to changes in your emotional response or everyday behavior. Strokes may also cause emotional distress due to the suddenness of their occurrence. As with any traumatic life experience, it may take time for you or your loved one to accept and adapt to the emotional trauma of having experienced a stroke.

Some common emotional changes strokes may cause are PseudoBulbar Affect, depression, and anxiety. Thankfully, there are several methods for treating the emotional changes associated with a stroke, with the first step being to discuss how you or your loved one is feeling with a doctor. Treatment may consist of one, or a combination, of the following: one-on-one counseling, group counseling, medication, diet, and exercise. The most effective treatment is different for everyone, so it is important to discuss and explore which combination works best for your or your loved one.

 

PseudoBulbar Affect

Sometimes referred to as “reflex crying,” “emotional lability,” or “labile mood,” PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA) is a symptom of damage to the area of the brain that controls expression of emotions, and it is one of the most frequently reported post-stroke behaviors. Characteristics of the disorder include rapid changes in mood, such as suddenly bursting into tears and stopping just as suddenly or even beginning to laugh at inappropriate times.

 

Depression

Survivors have a one in four chance of developing serious depression as a side effect of stroke. If you are feeling sad, hopeless, or helpless after having suffered a stroke, you may be experiencing this. Other symptoms of depression may include irritability or changes to your eating and sleeping habits. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, as it may be necessary to treat with prescription antidepressants or therapy to avoid it becoming a road block to your recovery.

Along with medication and therapy, a lot of research shows that a few simple lifestyle changes help relieve the symptoms of depression. If you or a loved one is having a difficult time coping with the emotional repercussions of a stroke, here are tips on how to implement positivity and resilience:

  • Attend a support group. Talking about your struggles with people in the same situation makes you feel less lonely and can offer helpful insight or different approaches to dealing with difficulties.
  • Eat healthy food. A good diet is important for your general health and your recovery from stroke and can also improve your mental health.
  • Remain socially active. Although you may not be able to do as much as you used to, it’s crucial to stay in touch with family and friends and take part in social activities.
  • Be as independent as possible. Humans need to feel independent and competent. Stroke recovery may require the help of caregivers, but if there are things that you can safely do by yourself, insist on it.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity, especially a low-impact one like walking, is proven to boost mental health and will also contribute to your recovery.

 

 

Tip 12: Set Recovery Goals with Your Therapist

Setting specific and meaningful goals can help keep one focused and motivated once they are achieved, and these goals can range from simple tasks to long-term accomplishments. By establishing a list consisting of difficulties and goals, overcoming obstacles can be put within reach.

When setting these goals, working with a therapist, doctor, or close friend can be a good way to find encouragement, as well as assistance in creating a list that places goals into an appropriate timeframe. Overall, a therapist will be familiar with your case, understanding the issues and complications, and will be able to offer sound advice in all aspects of recovery.

 

Tip 13: Stay Motivated

Since apathy is common during stroke recovery, staying motivated can be a challenge. Combining one’s interests with a solid rehabilitation regimen can effectively eradicate feelings of lethargy and depression. The best thing to do is to focus on a reason for recovery and to associate it with your plan of action. This can be done by implementing sentimental items into daily routines, thus giving you personal and motivational support at all times. For example, if one of your routines is to write a list of things to do for the day, try writing it on the back of a special photo. That way, as you’re checking things off, you’ll have a little reminder to keep you motivated.

 

Tip 14: Watch Out For The Recovery Plateau Stage

The recovery plateau stage refers to the point at which a stroke survivor begins to see a slow down or stop in the progression in their recovery. Some of the most significant improvements often occur in the subacute phase, which is usually the first three to six months after the stroke  (though there is anecdotal evidence of people making significant stroke recovery progress outside of that zone.)

Seeing improvement in the early days of a survivor’s recovery can make it a lot easier for them to stay motivated and continue working hard in therapy. Research shows that further recovery is still very possible after the plateau stage though, which is why it is so important to have a strong support system to encourage you to continue with therapy and working on recovery.

 

Tip 15: Working After Stroke

Since the brain is a major organ affected when it comes to strokes, chances are that some of its functions may have trouble performing like they did before. After a stroke, learning new things, or even just recalling information can be a challenge, and working through thoughts may suddenly be difficult.

After rehabilitation, many stroke survivors do find themselves able to return to work, but preparing for this transition can come with a lot of questions. Are you physically going to be able to perform your job? Will your disability benefits lapse? What do you need to communicate with your employer? These can be tough questions, but they do have answers. Some may not ever be able to go back to the same work, but for others, just a little assistance is needed.

When you are ready to return to work, it is important to know your rights and what your employer is, and is not, legally required to provide to employees with disabilities. Keep in mind that if you are unable to perform the essential functions of your job even with reasonable accommodation, your employer is not obligated to offer you a different position or create a new role for you. They might be willing to anyway, but it is not a requirement.

 

Tip 16: Understand and Combat Memory Loss

Not only is it common for stroke survivors to experience, but memory loss can affect a wide range of people through multiple factors. Age, physical trauma, and emotional stress have the potential to cause memory decline, but rebuilding memory’s strength is highly possible and can be fun.

Specifically, incorporating technology into daily rehabilitation exercises is a great way to show quick improvements. There are numerous apps for smartphones and tablets that use different techniques to significantly improve memory, and they have the ability to set reminders, schedule appointments, and oversee other illnesses.

 

Tip 17: Be Aware of Vascular Dementia

A common problem among stroke survivors, this symptom disrupts cognitive functions, which can make it challenging for one to sort out information.

Due to the damage of blood vessels from a stroke, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar must be maintained at healthy levels to ensure good blood flow throughout the body. If you are diabetic, it is crucial that you are paying careful attention to your blood sugar and insulin levels. Studies have shown that by managing these three components, vascular dementia can be decreased or prevented.

Helping Stroke Survivors Help Themselves

The process of stroke recovery is long and full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. It takes hard work and dedication to regain mental and physical function after a stroke. The information and tips above will help you to identify and overcome the many challenges that come with recovery.

To read our answers to the most common stroke recovery questions, click here. And remember, at the end of the day, there are dozens of approaches you can take to improve the speed of stroke recovery.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

via 17 Ways To Help Stroke Survivors Recover Faster | Saebo

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[VIDEO] Henry Hoffman Q&A Video Series: Can Patients Years Following Stroke Actually Make Progress? – YouTube

Saebo, Inc. is a medical device company primarily engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of affordable and novel clinical solutions designed to improve mobility and function in individuals suffering from neurological and orthopedic conditions. With a vast network of Saebo-trained clinicians spanning six continents, Saebo has helped over 100,000 clients around the globe achieve a new level of independence. In 2001, two occupational therapists had one simple, but powerful goal – to provide neurological clients access to transformative and life changing products. At the time, treatment options for improving arm and hand function were limited. The technology that did exist was expensive and inaccessible for home use. With inadequate therapy options often leading to unfavorable outcomes, health professionals routinely told their clients that they have “reached a plateau” or “no further gains can be made”. The founders believed that it was not the clients who had plateaued, but rather their treatment options had plateaued. Saebo’s commitment – “No Plateau in Sight” – was inspired by this mentality; and the accessible, revolutionary solutions began. Saebo’s revolutionary product offering was based on the latest advances in rehabilitation research. From the SaeboFlex which allows clients to incorporate their hand functionally in therapy or at home, to the SaeboMAS, an unweighting device used to assist the arm during daily living tasks and exercise training, “innovation” and “affordability” can now be used in the same sentence. Over the last ten years, Saebo has grown into a leading global provider of rehabilitative products created through the unrelenting leadership and the strong network of clinicians around the world. As we celebrate our history and helping more than 100,000 clients regain function, we are growing this commitment to affordability and accessibility even further by making our newest, most innovative products more accessible than ever.

via Henry Hoffman Q&A Video Series: Can Patients Years Following Stroke Actually Make Progress? – YouTube

 

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[BLOG POST] SaeboFlex Helps Client Regain Hand Function 23 Years After Stroke

SaeboFlexStroke survivor exhibits remarkable improvement in hand function more than two decades after stroke, disproving theories that recovery window is limited to 6 months. 

Charlotte, N.C. – Tuesday, July 25, 2017 – Until recently, researchers believed that if a stroke survivor exhibited no improvement within the first 6 months, then he or she would have little to no chance of regaining motor function in the future. This assumed end of recovery is called a plateau. However, a groundbreaking new article published in the Journal of Neurophysiology discusses a stroke patient’s remarkable improvement decades after suffering a stroke at the age of 15. Doctors Peter Sörös, Robert Teasell, Daniel F. Hanley, and J. David Spence formally dismiss previous theories that stroke recovery occurs within 6 months, reporting that the patient experienced “recovery of hand function that began 23 years after the stroke.”

The patient’s stroke resulted in paralysis on the left side of his body, rendering his left hand completely nonfunctional, despite regular physical therapy. More than twenty years after his stroke, the patient took up swimming when his doctor recommended he lose weight. A year later, he began to show signs of movement on his affected side and returned to physical therapy. Therapists fitted the patient with the SaeboFlex, a mechanical device shown to improve hand function and speed up recoveryand, after only a few months of therapy, he began picking up coins with his previously nonfunctional hand. He also saw notable improvement in hand strength and control with the SaeboGlove, a low-profile hand device recently patented by Saebo.

Functional MRI studies showed the reorganization of sensorimotor neurons in both sides of the patient’s brain more than two decades after his stroke, resulting in a noticeable recovery in both hemispheres and improved motor function. “The marked delayed recovery in our patient and the widespread recruitment of bilateral areas of the brain indicate the potential for much greater stroke recovery than is generally assumed,” the doctors reported. “Physiotherapy and new modalities in development might be indicated long after a stroke.”

“This article highlights what we have seen for the last 15 years with many of our clients,” states Saebo co-founder, Henry Hoffman. “Oftentimes, stroke survivors are told that they have plateaued and no further progress is possible. We believe it is not the client that has plateaued but failed treatment options have plateaued them. In other words, traditional therapy interventions that lack scientific evidence can be ineffective and can actually facilitate the plateau.”

“The SaeboFlex device is a life-changing treatment designed for clients that lack motor recovery and function,” Hoffman continues. “Whether the client recently suffered a stroke or decades later, they can immediately begin using their hand with this device and potentially make significant progress over time. I agree with the authors that the neurorehabilitation community needs to take a hard look at traditional beliefs with respect to the window of recovery following stroke. It is my hope that this article will spark more interest by researchers to investigate upper limb function with clients at the chronic stage using Saebo’s hand technology.”

The abstract and article in its entirety can be viewed at the Journal of Neurophysiology’s website, jn.physiology.org.

If you are suffering from limited hand function or have been told you have plateaued, then schedule a call with a Saebo Specialist or click here to get started on the road to recovery.

via SaeboFlex Helps Client Regain Hand Function 23 Years After Stroke | Saebo

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[BLOG POST] How to Prevent or Minimize the Plateau Phase After a Stroke – Saebo

The rehabilitation process throughout the first several months of stroke recovery can be confusing and often daunting, with peaks and valleys that either encourage or slow the healing process. Varying levels of paralysis are common, and adjusting to ongoing therapy requires a shift in mindset and a complete lifestyle overhaul.

Yet, some of the most significant improvements often occur during these early days, reflecting the initial plasticity of the brain. Therefore, gaining momentum during this neurologically progressive time is key to facing the often-frustrating period ahead—a stage known as a plateau. During this stage, it may feel as if the initial spike in progress was the end of successful rehabilitation and that no further improvement is possible. But for some, the plateauing phase is quite common and even to be expected, and understanding this will help both the patient and caregivers to avoid losing hope, motivation, and persistence during this difficult time.

Are plateaus real?

Over the past two decades, research has reaffirmed the frequency and common intricacies of plateauing in newer stroke patients. In the past, it was more likely for doctors to assume that patients only regained motor function in the first few months after a stroke, and that once the plateau occurred, ongoing exercises and therapy were ineffective.

However, recently published reports now show that patients can regain motor recovery and function up to 23 years after a stroke. Medical professionals are now finding that this complex recovery period often continues to occur for months and even years after a patient has left rehab—and primarily resumes only if patients and caretakers build a recovery planand have access to evidence-based technology to prevent the plateau phase after leaving traditional rehabilitation. Designing a home-exercise program, often by upgrading the previous inpatient therapeutic regimen, is the key to maintaining progress or restarting growth if the plateau phase has begun.

What causes a plateau?

When a stroke occurs, a specific area of the brain suffers an infarction, obstructing the blood supply and killing the functionality of a section of the brain. Though this specific area is not recoverable, the area directly surrounding the infarction-impacted region still holds potential for rehabilitation. In the moments directly after the stroke, however, the area simply does not work.

During the initial healing phase known as the subacute phase, which is usually the first three to six months after the stroke, the most consistent and encouraging signs of progress occur in these regions. This natural healing stage often takes place when patients are being coached along in rehab; but if the plateau stage occurs towards the end of  the natural healing phase, it’s common for patients to be sent home for a shift in care.

For this group of patients, this is a difficult transition for several reasons: familiar exercises must be altered and adjusted, the home routine requires greater adaptability, and patients face the discouragement of no longer seeing an uptick in progress, often deterring patients and caretakers from pushing on. Progressing through the discouragement is more easily accomplished when patients and caretakers understand the plateau stage. A solid plan of ongoing, managed care is necessary for continuing to bolster the still-developing parts of the mind.

It’s not the patients that have plateaued, rather treatment options have plateaued them.

It is important to keep in mind that traditional therapy that isn’t evidence-based can be ineffective and can actually causea plateau. Sometimes a patient’s recovery is only as good as the therapist, and if the therapist isn’t modifying the treatment to the patient’s specific needs and incorporating the latest proven interventions because they haven’t been trained or educated, the patient will most likely plateau. If the therapist is well educated on the latest advances and interventions in stroke recovery the patient has a much better chance of avoiding the plateau phase. So, a plateau phase may not be an absolute, it’s a possibility.

How can you overcome a plateau?

After reassuring research, the medical community confirms that working with a managed care professional with a series of ongoing exercises does promote improvement in a stroke patient’s long-term recovery. When signs of recovery seem to stall altogether, here are a few common practices for jumpstarting at-home care.

Saebo Rehabilitation Devices

The brain’s cortical plasticity is a key component in this stage of recovery, and Saebo offers several tools for employing this factor. Motor function and utilization of the hands can be continuously developed with the assistance of the SaeboGlove or SaeboFlex, easing therapy at home with minimal assistance and instruction. The SaeboFlex and SaeboGlove include a proprietary tension system that encourages the extension and grasping strength of the hands of healing stroke patients. This action simultaneously supports brain growth and reprogramming, encouraging the plasticity of the mind through task-oriented exercises.

If patients are unable to functionally use their affected hand, they will develop learned non-use and will eventually reach the plateau phase due to avoidance. The SaeboFlex and and SaeboGlove are two tools that may prevent or minimize the plateau phase and allow patients to engage their affected hand in functional tasks that would otherwise be impossible.

Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy

Similar to the SaeboGlove and SaeboFlex’s use of cortical plasticity, Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) encourages the regrowth of neurological pathways damaged during a stroke. This promotes more meticulous use of the affected hand. By keeping the functional hand from taking full responsibility for daily tasks—usually with a mitt—this method involves preference of the developing side of the brain. Though CIMT is an intensive process, which must be guided and supervised for several-hour stretches at a time, positive results may be seen for years to come.

At-Home Exercises

Maintaining a regimen of exercises that both meets the needs of ongoing recovery and the patient’s comfort is essential to progressing past the plateau stage after traditional rehab. The factor of neuroplasticity allows the brain to constantly adapt, but persistence and regularity is key. When followed correctly, an increase in motor function and strength is probable in many patients. Continuing physical exercise assists with many aspects of the healing process, supporting flexibility, coordination, and balance. Though physical activity does not prevent the occurrence of a second stroke, it will keep the body in key health for recovery.

Staying Motivated

During the difficult transition to home care, supportive family and medical professionals are the vital factor in helping patients maintain motivation and feel guided toward success. As a patient is just beginning the rehabilitation process, it is almost solely in the hands of the assistant to set the tone of the session, and this mutual understanding will drive the exercises forward, making it easier to set and meet small goals along the way. Roadblocks and frustrations are common, but with a structured and steady plan, these stages will pass and times of progress will return.

Handling Emotional Changes

When difficult emotions arise, it is crucial to realize that this is completely normal. Stroke recovery is a long, often slow process, and frustration, anger, and depression are understandable obstacles to encounter. Know that these feelings and physical plateaus will pass with time when both patients and caretakers allow themselves self-care and patience. It is also helpful for families to keep this in mind, as maintaining a genuinely flexible and positive atmosphere during rehabilitation will help all parties see these changes and efforts as a long-term process.

Keep Moving Forward

When heading into long-term stroke treatment, awareness of evidence-based treatment interventions may prevent or decrease the plateauing stage. But with consistent at-home tools and exercises, progress will return, even if it feels slower than in previous phases. The recently damaged brain is taking the necessary time to heal and regrow, and this requires setting short-term goals and celebrating small victories. Reaching the plateau stage is an opportunity to reconsider the next best way forward with your therapist—progress is still ahead, even if the methods and system require a new outlook.

Source: How to Prevent or Minimize the Plateau Phase After a Stroke | Saebo

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