By John D. Hamilton
After a stroke has been suffered, post stroke exercises form the basis for a stroke rehabilitation program. There are some important considerations to take into account when selecting the stroke exercises you will perform or designing a stroke rehabilitation program. One of the most important aspects when designing a stroke rehabilitation program is the specificity of the exercises we choose to include in it.
Research has shown that although the brain works altogether like a well organized orchestra, it is indeed made up of many different functioning parts with tremendous intercommunication. Some scientists argue that specialization of certain areas of the brain is what allowed humans to develop such advanced higher level functioning. Just like an office organization that may grow from a one man show doing everything to having people perform a specialized role with in the organization in the form of a receptionist, accountant, manager etc. Specialization allows an area to totally concentrate and devote all it’s resources to one task and to also hopefully be very good at whatever that task may be.
So what does specialization and specificity have to do with stroke exercises and rehabilitation? Well just as specialization helps the brain to function more efficiently, when we concentrate our rehab efforts more specifically we can enhance, speed up and make our results more efficient.
Although it may seem a little daunting, learning a little bit of neurology or having a small understanding of the brain can greatly assist in choosing the most effective stroke exercises. The brain is divided into two hemispheres – a left and a right. Each hemisphere has a tendency to specialize in certain roles. The left hemisphere is referred to as our language hemisphere and it is common that strokes here will result in language related deficits referred to as aphasia’s. The right hemisphere is more visual spatially orientated and damage here often results in what is called neglect syndrome. Neglect syndrome is classically demonstrated by the individual who is totally ignorant of a field of space or even part or half of his own body resulting in strange behavior such as eating only one half a plate of food, dressing one side of the body or shaving one side of the face.
Now armed with this basic knowledge we could be more specific in our application of after a stroke or post stroke exercises. Of course any type of exercise will be better than none, but if we have an understanding of the areas damaged by the stroke or the deficits the patient is displaying then we can tailor out treatment to better rehabilitate the brain. This can result in greater and faster recovery after a stroke.
John D. Hamilton
Stroke Rehabilitation Researcher and Author
Click here to visit John’s website and read more about Stroke Exercises
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