Depending on the severity of the stroke a person can be left with a plethora of physical challenges. Some survivors engage in programs provided by our healthcare system, some do not. The rehabilitative experience can be quite different from person to person. No matter what the initial rehabilitative experience is, there is still room for continued assistance to maintain strength, flexibility, posture and balance. This is where we come in, to help create an individualized exercise regime that can be adopted into the weekly routine. By creating an appropriate routine we can help with
- Maintenance/improvement in muscle function, flexibility and posture
- Reduce muscle atrophy
- Improvement in balance
This can help our client to have less discomfort, be more productive and maintain an higher degree of independence. Maintaining their strength and balance may allow them to
- Participate in community events
- Engage in new activities
- Accomplish daily activities of living
- Even tasks as basic as picking themselves up, after a fall
Consider that the survivor may have extensive exercise experience before their stroke. This may be another thing that they will miss if they do not have access to knowledgeable, compassionate trainers to provide individualized, effective training programs.
When working with Stroke Survivors safety must be your number one priority:
- Know/Learn your clients’ needs and limitations
- Maintain a safe and supportive distance
- Allow time for breaks to rest, stretch or drink water
- Maintain a clear and safe environment, free of debris
- Instruct how to maneuver around tricky equipment
- Offer assistance, avoid forcing movements
Before you begin training be sure to complete a thorough assessment. You need to understand the physical challenges, degree of mobility, and if there is a need for assistive devices. You should inquire about exercise history and set goals. Inquire about networking with other healthcare professionals. Above all, know that your client’s needs and abilities can fluctuate on any given day. Be sure to keep an open dialog; listen and watch your client to be sure to assist them to the degree they need.
Here are some tips to make the session more effective and enjoyable.
- Work non-affected side first & use non-affected limbs to help affected limbs if necessary
- Use mimic drills to facilitate movement in the affected limb
- ALWAYS allow the person to move the affected limb before helping
- Try to remind them to do the same – they may be impatient with themselves
- Remember to STRETCH after Strengthening
- Enjoy your training session!
If you are a fitness professional wanting to learn more about working with Stroke Survivors, send me an email. If you are a Stroke Survivor or a caregiver of a Survivor and want more information regarding appropriate exercises please contact me to set up an appointment.