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Stroke Rehab: Pt, Ot, St, And Cognitive Therapy


Physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy (ST), and cognitive therapy

may begin as soon as 24 to 48 hours after a stroke. Therapies may be done in a hospital, a long term care facility, or at home. It may also be done in an outpatient facility. The type and location of your therapy may depend on what effects you have from a stroke. The goals of therapy may include:

  • Helping you regain as much independence as possible
  • Helping you manage and live with the effects of a stroke
  • Preventing further injury from falls and immobility

Call your doctor or neurologist if:

  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or therapy.

What family or support persons should know about PT, OT, and ST:

You can be a part of your loved one's recovery by doing the following:

  • Go to therapy with your loved one. Learn exercises and ways to help them adapt to the effects of their stroke. Learn about medical equipment and how to use them in your home.
  • Help your loved one practice the skills they learn in therapy. Practice may help your loved one recover faster from a stroke. Help your loved one focus on strengths and skills that were not lost after a stroke.
  • Learn what therapies and services are available. Talk to your loved one's healthcare provider, case manager, or social worker to learn about insurance coverage. There may be services to help with care in your home and transportation to appointments. There are also support groups for stroke survivors and their loved ones. Talk to health care providers to help find support.

PT after a stroke:

Physical therapy may begin as soon as 24 to 48 hours after a stroke. A physical therapist will test your balance, coordination, and how well you move your muscles. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. A physical therapist may help you do any of the following:

  • Walk, improve balance, improve coordination, and prevent falls
  • Learn how to use paralyzed or weak arms or legs
  • Transfer from a bed to a chair or from a chair to standing
  • Use assistive devices such as canes, walkers, splints, and braces
  • Perform range of motion and resistance exercises
  • Stretch stiff or tight muscles
  • Strengthen bladder and bowel muscles to treat incontinence

OT after a stroke:

An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities. Occupational therapy may help you do any of the following:

  • Eat, dress, bathe, groom, or use the bathroom independently
  • Learn ways to use your weak or paralyzed arm
  • Focus attention on the side of your body that you may ignore
  • Use special equipment such as button hooks for dressing or feeding aids
  • Complete a series of tasks in a step by step way
  • Determine what assistive devices you may need in your home

ST after a stroke:

You may need speech therapy to help you relearn how to communicate and understand information. A speech-language pathologist, or speech therapist, is someone who teaches you exercises to improve communication. Speech therapy may also determine how well you can swallow and eat. A speech therapist may help you do the following:

  • Strengthen muscles needed for speaking, swallowing, drinking, and eating
  • Learn how to swallow and prevent choking
  • Pronounce letters and words
  • Put words together to form sentences
  • Improve your memory, concentration, and problem solving skills
  • Find other ways for you to communicate such as sign language, drawing, using communication boards, or using computer technology

Cognitive therapy after a stroke:

Cognitive therapy will help improve your memory, concentration, and learning.

What you need to know about depression:

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have depression that continues or is getting worse. Your provider may be able to help treat your depression. Your provider can also recommend support groups for you to join. A support group is a place to talk with others who have had a stroke. It may also help to talk to friends and family members about how you are feeling. Tell your family and friends to let your healthcare provider know if they see signs of depression:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Avoiding social interaction with family or friends
  • A lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Low energy levels
  • A change in eating habits or sudden weight gain or loss

Follow up with your doctor or neurologist as directed:

Keep all appointments for therapy. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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