Therapy is vital to all stroke survivors and I had all sorts, good and bad. I found the best after four years of recovery and it took me six months to get in but the weight was worth it because this is the best therapy I ever had. I go to therapy at a certified stroke center; they have PT, OT and speech therapist here that specialize in helping stroke survivors. The therapy is all one on one and the therapist know and understand stroke patients. One my first appointment, my therapist watched me walk and knew right away what was wrong with my gait and went over a plan with me how to correct it. This was my physical therapist Judy.
On my first day I sat down with my physical therapist Judy and we talked about my life from the stroke till now. She wanted to know about all my other therapies, how my life was going since my stroke, was I angry, sad, did I have friends or family for support, we talked about all sorts of things that happened after my stroke. Judy wanted to make sure that I had a support group and that I could take care of myself before we even got into talking about my rehab. I then told Judy about all the different rehabs that I went to and she could not believe that not one of my old rehab instructors did anything to correct my gait. I was walking with my left foot tilted towards my pinkie toe and would swing my left leg out then in like a half circle. We went over a plan for therapy, how many days a week and what we would do. I would start every session with stretching then get into different exercises that would help improve my gait.
I started pt in February going two days a week, Judy keep daily logs of what I did and how I improved and she reported this to my insurance (Medicare). I did a lot of different exercises in front of a mirror, so eye could see if I was doing them correctly and using proper posture. Judy would always tell me to us proper posture; stand up straight making sure my feet, torso, shoulders and head were all lined up straight. We worked on straightening my left side, some exercises we did were, placing my right leg on a step and moving my weight to the left side of my body. This was very hard for me so we first concentrated on learning how to transfer weight from one side of the body to the other, when I learned how to transfer weight to my left side I learned how to put my right leg on a step and then transfer my weight to the left side. The other big thing I had to work on was not bending my left ankle when I walk, the first thing Judy told me to do was to walk with my left foot at a 45 degree angle point toward my right foot. By doing this all of my left foot would be flat on the ground, I would also walk with the inner part of my foot on the ground, over compensating so the outside of my foot was not on the ground but I only did this at therapy. Judy would give me exercises to do at home every week, which I always did because they made sense and I knew they were making me better. We did a lot of different exercises and Judy would always explain to me how they would help me and what muscle groups we were building up.
I have been going to this therapy since February and now I am taking OT at the same clinic and my therapist Janice is just like Judy, she explains everything to me, how each exercises helps me. Judy my PT instructor stretched my therapy as long as she could (ten months) and she gave me both stretching and exercises to do at home until I start up PT again in January. The nice thing is I am taking OT in the same place so I can ask Judy a question at any time. It makes a huge difference when your therapists know what you are going through and can answer stroke related questions.
We know every stroke is different and therapy is very hard but when you can relate to your therapist and they understand what you are going through, it makes you work harder and you have a better recovery. This is why I would recommend going to a Certified Stroke Center for therapy. You can Google Certified Stoke Center and see if there is one in your area and give then a call.