They say it takes a crisis to show who your true friends are. But what about those people who come along to help you pick up the pieces after the crisis? Of those people, caregivers might just be the ones that help the most. They are the people who come along to lift you up when you’re at your lowest.
The role of the caregiver
Caregivers occupy a unique role in post-stroke rehabilitation, with caregiver-mediated exercise (CME) being possibly the most hands-on aspect of this role. CME, in which the caregiver actively supports the patient during exercise, can help patients increase the intensity of their training in a way that limits the risk of injury while promoting improvements in balance and functional independence.
A team of researchers in Korea conducted a study to assess the efficacy and safety of a CME program. This program focused on improving balance, gait, and torso control. And it determined whether improvements led to a reduced fear of falling in patients post-stroke. They enrolled 72 patients, 35 of whom received two hours of CME five-times weekly for four weeks in addition to conventional therapy. CME was conducted in three phases of increasing difficulty: a lying-on-a-bed phase, a sitting phase, and a standing phase. Progress was evaluated using scales that measure improvements in balance, functional ability, independence, and whether the patients had a continuing fear of post-stroke falls.
In support of CME
Overall, the study showed overwhelming support in favor of CME in post-stroke rehabilitation. Patients in the CME group showed greater improvements in functional ability, balance (both while standing and while moving), and torso function. They also showed a greater degree of independence and reported being less concerned about post-stroke falls.
So it seems in terms of lifting you up (and combating your fear of being back on your own two feet), a structured program of CME has a lot to offer. So if you’re feeling left behind, why not see if CME can help you to face some of your fears?
The lead author of this study is Min Jun Lee, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Konkuk University Chungju Hospital, Chungju, Korea.