Hosted By

Sherry L. Pierce
Author of "I'M OK"




Physical Therapy

To read "Words from a Physical Therapist"
by Shelly Dean

     Structured physical therapy begins about five days after a stroke, when patients are able to take a more active role in the program. Paralyzed muscles tend to shrink and lose strength from the lack of use; a physical exercise program can help restore muscle length and assist the patient in learning ways to use the muscle again. 

     The slow process uses stretching to increase range of motion and weight bearing exercise to improve muscle tone, a (PT) will also work on balance issues, coordination, sitting, standing, laying down and switching from one type of movement to another. 

     For patients who cannot walk, the emphasis is on learning to walk again. As a general guideline, if some movement is present in the leg (usually in the upper thigh) in the first few days after stroke, there is a fairly good chance that a patient will be walking in three months, probably with a cane at first.


     This technique of therapy is to train the patient to use alternative muscles to move a limb when the primary muscle is paralyzed. Electronic instruments monitor muscle function and the body�s automatic functions (including pattern of breathing and pulse rate) while the patient attempts to activate different muscles. 

     Measurements of electrical activity in the muscles are translated into the auditory or visual signal to inform the patient about the muscle contraction, which allows him or her to target specific muscle groups.

Mirror Therapy

     This technique is an approach that requires a patient to move both limbs symmetrically while watching set up to reflect their unaffected arm. It is believed that the mirror creates a positive reinforcement messages to the brain, because the affected arm appears like it is moving correctly. 

     This will strengthen the sensory-motor control connection to the brain.

Words from a Physical Therapist

by: Shelly Dean

    My name is Shelly Dean; when I was in high school I broke my leg in two places in a car accident and had to undergo physical therapy for recovery. While in rehab, the physical therapist asked me what I wanted to be?

    "Maybe an EMS� or something in the medical field," I answered. Then she told me I should look into physical therapy, because she thought I�d be good at it. So I kind of looked into it at school and talked to my career counselor. I also signed up for an on-the-job career day at a physical therapy facility. I really liked the day I spent with a PT.

    Physical therapists today will often work in a variety of settings at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, outpatient clinics, fitness facilities, the home environment and at many industrial companies. A physical therapist will evaluate and treat those with musculoskeletal disorders, neurological dysfunctions and those with other types of disease, injury or illness.

    Rehabilitation is not done solely by the physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, but by the team efforts of many health professionals. Physical therapists will coordinate treatment plans with doctors, nurses, social workers and occupational therapists just to name a few. This multidisciplinary approach helps achieve patient goals and individual treatment outcomes as quickly and as effectively as possible.

    Physical therapists work with patients who have trouble moving all or parts of their bodies because of injuries, illness, or disease. They study the movement of their patients, assess where they might need improvements, and create a rehabilitation program for them. Physical therapists are also experts in the structure, development, and healing processes of muscle tissues.

    I�ve had many wonderful moments in my chosen profession, for example, I had an eight year old child, who�s parents were informed that she would probably never walk again without an assistive device, After four weeks of intensive physical therapy. Along with her parents� I watched her take her first few steps without any assistance. As a physical therapist I�ve learned to make these kinds of miracles (some more dramatic than others) happen every day.

    Rehab is very individualized. The goal of rehab is to get the patient back to his or her functional life as soon as possible after the stroke or injury. It often becomes a team approach including the patient's family, the patient, the various medical specialists, and the therapists, all working together with the goal of maximizing potential.

    Words I Live by "Each day I give everything I have physically, and I'm drained when I finish work. What fills me up for the next day is knowing that God provides me with the knowledge of therapy and the desire to offer guidance--hope, friendship, and the light of Christ to my patients."

Thank You,
Shelly Dean, Physical Therapist

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