Usually, we are taught to focus on one thing before moving on to the next. It makes sense to prioritize and give your full attention to one task before starting another. And a lot of times stroke rehabilitation works in the same way. However, hospital rehabilitation time is limited. This means priorities need to be set, but all too often, the patient is sent home before moving on to the second priority. Arm and hand recovery after stroke sometimes becomes a second priority.
Getting patients out of rehab as soon as possible
Researchers from the UK interviewed patients and clinicians to learn about the current state of hospital rehabilitation after stroke. The reality is there is a focus to get patients out of the hospital and out of rehab as soon as possible. This means clinicians must determine what is the most important thing a patient needs to be able to do in order to go home. Almost always, the answer is that the patient needs to be able to walk. So, it should come as no surprise that getting patients back on their feet is priority number one in rehab.
Patients are sent home when they are steady enough to walk, but many still face problems with their arm and hand. And the worst thing is, they aren’t sure what to do. Getting extensive arm and hand training at home is too expensive for most people to be a sustainable option. And even though family members and caregivers are willing to help, the required level of intensity is hard for untrained people to determine. So loved-ones have their hearts in the right place, but their efforts are not always enough.
You can achieve more
Patients reported that they sometimes have the impression that healthcare professionals have low expectations from rehab. All too often, the attitude about their condition seems like, “you just have to live with it.” Besides being completely demotivating, this sentiment is far from the truth.
Patients can make progress if they do the right things. First of all, patients need to know how and why certain movements can help them. It’s motivating to understand the concept behind an exercise and to know what sort of improvements can be expected. It is also important that patients can see their progress. This can be done by daily activity monitoring. For example, you can record how many times you can repeat an exercise in 30 seconds every day. If you see you can do more repetitions each day, it keeps you going. Keeping track of your activity lets you see exactly how you continue to improve.
Let us support you
Because Strokemark understands the reality of continuing rehabilitation for many stroke patients, we are here to support you. We want to change your rehab experience. We have considered the challenges that patients face and are currently developing a hand and arm course to help you regain your function and stay motivated. Our course explains the scientific evidence behind our training, gives you specific guided exercises to improve your arm and hand function, and helps you track your progress so that you stay motivated.
We’ll keep you updated on our progress on let you know when this course will be available to you.
The lead author of the original article is Katie L. Meadmore from NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC), University of Southampton, Southampton, UK and from the Centre for Innovation and Leadership in Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.