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What are the benefits of stroke rehabilitation therapy?

Stroke rehabilitation therapy has many benefits for the person who had a stroke, their family and society. Stroke rehabilitation therapy is treatment and support from occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, other professionals, family and friends. Stroke has a huge impact on a family, and society—not just the person who had the stroke. If a person has a stroke, he or she has a higher chance of disability and difficulties later on in life. People have to begin speech, occupational and physical therapy. Imagine plumbers who can no longer use their dominant hand. They will have to relearn their trade. Imagine no longer being able to speak normally. People have to relearn to talk. Imagine police officers who now cannot see half of the world—how will they do their tasks? Stroke changes people’s future goals and plans. About one in two patients will become depressed and those with depression are less likely to participate in rehabilitation.

About two-thirds of people who have had a stroke will need some form of rehabilitation therapy. For many people, a rehabilitation program can make the crucial difference between regaining the ability to function in daily life or remaining dependent and severely impaired. Other people may be too severely impaired to take advantage of rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is treatment designed to help you regain some or all of the abilities that were impaired by the stroke. It can entail building strength in your arms and legs, learning how to walk again, improving your speech, and bringing back your memory. Rehabilitation can also teach you how to adapt to a permanent disability -- for example, learning to use a wheelchair or getting in and out of the shower by grabbing special bars.

You may think of rehabilitation as something that comes after stroke treatment, but it's actually part of stroke treatment. Rehabilitation is work. Whether it involves physical exercises or speech therapy, improvement will require an investment of time and energy. Additionally, it's not uncommon for someone who has had a stroke to experience depression, which can dampen the person's motivation to participate in the rehabilitation program. If you feel depressed, it's important to seek treatment early so you can proceed with the work of regaining some of your lost functioning.

Other important resources offered by rehabilitation programs include support groups and education for families on how to care for a relative who is recovering from a stroke. Learning to use a variety of physical and psychological skills can help someone affected by stroke continue to live a rewarding and active life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.