Stroke rehabilitation involves strengthening exercises that increase muscle strength and coordination, and mobility training requiring the use of a walker, cane, plastic brace or other walking aids for weight support while relearning the normal way to walk, reports Mayo Clinic. Stroke sufferers also undergo range-of-motion exercises that reduce muscle tension and improve movements, and constraint-induced therapy that allows them to focus on using their weak limbs while avoiding the use of unaffected limbs.
Stroke rehabilitation may include activities that use technology, such as robotic devices that help patients use their affected limbs to perform certain movements repeatedly to restore function and strength, notes Mayo Clinic. Some doctors recommend functional electrical stimulation, which prompts weakened muscles to contract by delivering electricity to the muscles.
Virtual reality lets patients interact with a virtual setting in real time using video games, explains Mayo Clinic. Other technology-based rehabilitation methods include wireless technology and noninvasive brain stimulation.
Stroke rehabilitation also includes cognitive activities, such as communication therapy, which restores talking, listening and writing skills; psychological treatment, which lets stroke sufferers join support groups or confide in mental health specialists; and medications for depression, states Mayo Clinic. Acupuncture, herbal therapy and massage are possible alternative treatment options. Most stroke sufferers begin rehabilitation 24 to 48 hours following a stroke, as early rehabilitation leads to higher chances of regaining lost capabilities.