Lower Body Conditioning after a Stroke: It’s Still Your Job

By David Dansereau for Stroke Smart Magazine

Stroke rehabilitation therapies and modalities for lower-extremity training have indeed advanced in recent years with improved technology. Many of these advances are being driven by what researchers are learning about brain recovery and neuroplasticity. Physical therapists that embrace this concept for stroke recovery now develop rehabilitation protocols and use the same technologies that on many levels imitate conditioning for an athlete post-sports injury or for performance enhancement. For example, motion analysis and capture was a technology formerly reserved for high level athletes, but increasingly PTs are recognizing its power for stroke therapy.

Get ready to do your job
When preparing for lower body conditioning after a stroke it is important to set SMART goals. Once goals are set, the mindset (or work ethic) of the stroke survivor must mirror that of the athlete. Athletes perform purpose driven exercise and as a stroke survivor so should you. Don’t forget, stroke recovery is your job.

There are three qualities that all top athletes (and stroke survivors) share when preparing for their training (and stroke recovery):

  • 1) Acquire a strong desire to succeed and are passionate about their goals
    2) Open minded attitude about how to develop skills to do the best job possible
    3) Movement (or exercise strategy) has purpose towards their goals
  • If you don’t have access to the new stroke therapy technologies, don’t get discouraged and quit your job. Know that traditional strength, balance, and gait training on land or using treadmills and other tools are still very effective. With and without the use of assistive devices these methods have proven to get results for stroke survivors that are motivated to get the job done. If you desire to get back your independence and confidence, the most important factor in any exercise program is compliance. It doesn’t matter if you paid thousands for your home exercise equipment , robotic device or functional electrical stim unit or you simply invested just a few dollars on an exercise ball, band or tubing. What matters most is that you use it regularly and with purpose.

    In today’s changing healthcare system with lowered reimbursements and shorter treatment times, emphasis on home-based training continues to increase. It’s important for the stroke survivor to understand the importance of continuing with the appropriate exercise prescription for their own condition to ensure effectiveness and maximize functional outcomes. It is your job to put in the time to recover to your fullest. Do your job!

    Home-based Exercise is Your Job: Here’s how to make it simple to get started

    Elastic resistance or exercise tubing is ideal for the home setting because of its portability, cost and effectiveness (yes, even elite athletes use it because it works!). Several accessories are available to assist home exercisers, such as exercise handles, door anchors and portable gyms and flexibility tools. For more information on effective home resistive exercise programs using a thera-ball, bands or to locate inexpensive home gym essentials visit my-physical-therapy-coach.com and click on the Stroke Coach and Exercise Coach links

    Article Adapted from David’s Smart Moves Stroke Recovery Guidebook available Jan 2010

    1 Stroke Smart Nov/Dec 2008 issue. 2008 The year in Review: Research and News that will change the face of stroke
    2 Motion Analysis Corp (www.motionanalysis.com)
    The MotionMonitor™, by Innovative Sports Training (www.innsport.com)
    3 SMART Goals article for Stroke Smart by David Dansereau

    Published by David Dansereau

    Licensed Physical Therapist, Nutritionist and Author in private consulting practice at PTC Physical Therapy Consulting and SmartMovesPT. Know-Stroke.org is my blog and members resource to raise stroke awareness and educate the public about reducing stroke risk as well as provide tips, tools and review new technologies for stroke recovery. Learn about my book, Body in Balance sold on Amazon at www.physicaltherapycoach.com

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