"Words from a Physical
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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."
Shelly Dean, Physical Therapist