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Rehabilitation

How long?

04/25/2003

Question:

An older family member suffered a stroke a couple of years ago. She went through rehabilitation and initially made good progress. Over the last year or so there has been little improvement but no steps backwards either. She continues to do the therapies that were recommended but is getting frustrated with the lack of noticeable progress and its getting harder to keep her motivated. My questions are do we keep after her to keep working or can we back off? If we back off will she deteriorate? Could we just emphasize the activities she enjoys? She walks with a noticeable limp (but does walk regularly) but has regained little use of her arm.

Answer:

As people participate in exercise, the body adapts, or becomes used to the exercises that the individual has been performing. It is for this reason that athletes know that you should "cross train" or vary your exercise regimen. Similarly, it is reasonable to assume that, if she has been performing the same exercises in the same way for a prolonged period, the body will adapt. However, this does not mean that the body has necessarily lost capacity to benefit from therapeutic exercise. In fact, our research has shown that people many years past their strokes can continue to recover. We have several studies that provide free physical and occupational therapy to stroke survivors many years after their strokes. The therapies are much different than those that your family member has been performing. Contact me if interested. 

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Response by:

Stephen J Page, PhD Stephen J Page, PhD
Director of Research, Associate Professor
Drake Center
University of Cincinnati