The Impact of Outpatient Therapy after Stroke

Woman therapist providing stroke rehabilitation to older man.

After a stroke, patients can have a wide range of challenges, including paralysis on one or both sides of their body, abnormal posture, behavioral disorders, a reduced capacity or inability to communicate (aphasia), cognitive deficits, chronic pain, and/or depression. These symptoms may linger or even appear weeks after a stroke. Most patient being with inpatient therapy and then continue their recovery through outpatient therapy. Every stroke recovery is unique, so how much outpatient therapy is needed depends on your unique symptoms and their severity.

Outpatient therapy is typically provided in a rehabilitation clinic or community setting and is a valuable part of stroke recovery. It can help you regain function and independence, improve your quality of life, reduce the risk of further complications or disability and reduce the likelihood of a second stroke.

Why outpatient therapy has a critical impact on recovery

When outpatient therapy is tailored to a stroke survivor’s specific needs and goals, the patient can significantly improve their mobility, balance, and functional ability. This has a positive impact on quality of life and may also help to reduce the risk of falls, fractures and a second stroke. Most patients need a combination of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Your team may also include a physiatrist, psychologist, social worker or nutritionist.

Outpatient physical therapy

Physical therapy (PT) benefits individuals who experience weakness, paralysis or other mobility issues due to a stroke. PT uses exercises and stretches to improve mobility, balance, strength, range of motion and coordination. It may also include the use of assistive devices or adaptive equipment, such as walkers or canes.

Outpatient occupational therapy

Occupational therapy’s goal is to address and regain independence through participation in meaningful activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, cooking, household management tasks, community re-integration, etc. Additionally, occupational therapy creates a client-centered treatment plan that supports a patient’s goal of resuming meaningful roles of spouse, parent and/or caregiver. Regaining independence may include addressing strength and motion in the affected arm to further support resuming roles and habits in their lives.

Outpatient speech therapy

If a stroke affects an area of the brain responsible for language, a stroke survivor may have trouble speaking, listening, understanding language or swallowing. In speech therapy (ST), you may learn exercises to improve the clarity of your speech, language comprehension, expression and swallowing. ST may also include training to use assistive devices, such as communication boards or computer software.

Find information on stroke rehabilitation at Penn Medicine Rehabilitation and Penn Therapy & Fitness or call 877-969-7342.

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