New Study Offers Hope for Stroke Survivors

A study published recently by the University of Florida offers some good news: Researchers found that intense physical therapy can bring about functional recovery more than a year after the initial stroke.

To put this in perspective, when my mother had her stroke in 1992, she was paralyzed on her left side and had difficulty swallowing. We were told that there was a good possibility that she would regain function with natural healing and physical therapy—and we would learn how much within six months or less. The general belief at the time seemed to be that recovery—to the extent possible–happened within a relatively short time frame. And if it did not occur within that six month period, it would not happen at all.

This new study showed that thinking isn’t necessarily the case. All participants experienced a stroke a year or more in the past and still had limited physical function. University of Florida researcher, Janis Daly, PhD is quoted as saying, “The magnitude of recovery we observed in our study is higher than any other studies that have been published so far, which supports the promise of longer treatment and more intensive treatment after stroke, even for those who are more severely impaired.” The reason this finding is so important is because loss of function and the subsequent inability to perform activities of daily living is one of the main reasons people lose independence and end up having to move into some type of long-term care facility. However, if ongoing physical therapy can change that outcome, it would make a huge difference in the quality of life for many people who we give up on today.

It is not clear whether programs, such as the one at the University of Florida, are currently available to the general population or what criteria will be used to select patients for this type of more intensive and extensive physical therapy. However, if you or one of your family members has not fully recovered following a stroke, I urge you to talk to your doctor about these findings. From what it shows, if you have the will, there may be a way to improve your functioning and to gain a degree of independence you may not have thought possible.

 

University of Florida. (2015, June 12). Severely impaired stroke survivors regain arm function after intensive physical therapy.

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