(NC) Stroke inflicts varying degrees of lifestyle changes, impairments and challenges for over 400,000 Canadians each year. The uphill battle faced by stroke patients is different for each survivor, however with the help of specialized medical professionals in the field, the path to recovery is made smoother.
Dr. Tania Henriques, a rehabilitation physician based in Burlington, Ontario, recognizes the commonality of stroke today and has dedicated her life to helping patients come to terms with lingering impairments.
“In a multi-faceted approach, a patient’s comprehensive history is recorded before assessing the diversity of possible issues,” she explains. “After a stroke, we can’t predict how greatly affected or disabled a patient will be until we’ve understood their goals, lifestyles and aspirations.”
Both basic and instrumental activities of daily living are impacted differently in stroke survivors. The quality of life for a pianist will suffer immensely after showing signs of even mild finger weakness or tightness. This patient’s joy found in playing the piano is removed, and medical professionals are left to determine a course of treatment to bring back that joy in some capacity. Patients’ life aspirations matter as treatment plans will cater to the individual, not just to the disease.
“We need to make more physicians, nurses and Personal Support Workers aware of the delayed onset of limb spasticity and the coinciding resources and specialists now available,” says Dr. Henriques. “June is Stroke Awareness Month, a timely opportunity for survivors to communicate their hardships and recovery milestones, but also a time to educate the medical field on breakthroughs in post-stroke treatment and first signs of impairment symptoms.”
For limb spasticity, be sure to consult your physician since there are medications such as muscle relaxants, benzodiazepines (sedatives/anti-anxiety drugs) and injectable treatments, which can all help promote muscle relaxation. The doctor points out that injectable treatments are a lesser known option. Botulinum toxin, for example, is helping to improve certain impairments quickly compared to long-term rehab plans.
“Patients can appreciate a treatment that can give them noticeable results,” she says, “along with the ability to use a limb again, to practice better hygiene and to improve ease of dressing.”
More information on stroke recovery and resources is available at www.beyondstroke.ca.
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