If you ask someone ‘what is main cause of disability among the citizens of the United States’ then you are bound to get a wide variety of answers. It is highly unlikely that many of them would mention a heart stroke as an answer. The reality however is that strokes are the primary cause of disability in the United States of America.
According to reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately seven hundred and ninety five thousand people suffer from a new or a recurring stroke every year and strokes kill a shocking number of Americans per annum- A staggering hundred and thirty thousand of them on an average.
It is estimated that on an average, one American dies from a stroke every four minutes and one of four people who suffer a stroke have had them in the past as well. It is also scary to note that about six hundred and ten thousand Americans suffer from a first stroke every year as more than thirty four billion dollars are spent every year in the United States for health care services and medication related to this problem.
Who is at risk?
Going by data, half of the American people who suffer from a stroke do so as a result of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Needless to say, obesity is a prime cause of these problems and an unhealthy lifestyle drastically increases your chances of suffering from a stroke.
Men are much more likely than women to suffer from a stroke at a younger age however women unfortunately are more likely to die from it. In the same vain, women who regularly consume birth control pills also run a slightly higher risk of suffering from a stroke.
People who have already suffered from a stroke are also much likely to suffer from another one if preventive measures are not employed.
Consequences of a stroke
While death is not always the result when it comes to a stroke, there are other grave circumstances that a person can find himself or herself in when they are the victims of a stroke. Things like weakness of one side of the body, inability to take care of themselves, lack of social participation, suffering from cognitive dissonance, unable to walk with ease and a lack of emotional functioning are some of the most common problems that stroke survivors face.
Needless to say, a majority of stroke patients need help and therapy to get back on their feet and resume normal functioning. This is where occupational therapy comes in.
What is occupational therapy?
The process of helping a person recover from the after effects of a stroke is referred to as occupational therapy. It involves taking the help of an occupational therapist (a trained healthcare professional) whose goal is to help the patient relearn everyday activities that he or she is struggling with after the stroke.
With the help of a trained professional, a patient can regain the necessary skills that they need to do everyday activities. Things as simple as getting out of bed and making a cup of coffee to doing social activities and even regaining a hobby skill that might have been impaired.
The goal of occupational therapy is to ensure that the patient will be able to function at an acceptable level once they are assimilated back in society. More often than not, an occupational therapist will work with a bunch of other professionals like physiotherapists, speech therapists, doctors and nurses to achieve this goal.
The process of occupational therapy
Depending upon the extent of the stroke and disabilities felt by the patient, whether physical or emotional, an occupational therapist determines the various actions and activities that need rehabilitation. Then they consult with the family and/or caregivers to put this plan into action.
In time, an experienced occupational therapist should be able to help the patient develop skills and gain confidence in their own ability to do daily activities on their own.
After analyzing the needs of a patient, an occupational therapist assess the difficulties the patient faces, suggest activities that improve their ability, adapts everyday activities in the process of rehabilitation and teaches the patient techniques and strategies that will help them overcome difficulties.
These therapeutic sessions usually last about 45 minutes, are conducted five days a week and often involve caregivers and/or members of the family too. Towards the end an occupational therapist even visits the home of the patient to determine its suitability for a stroke survivor and recommend any changes.
Occupational therapy treatment ideas for stroke patients
Occupational therapists rely on a whole lot of different ideas for diagnosis as well as rehabilitation. For instance beading is used to judge and better the motor skills of a patient. They are handed different shapes of wooden beads and are asked to add them to a string or a shoelace in a particular sequence. Often they are given a pattern, which they are asked to match with the beads they have at their disposal.
To improve the sensory awareness of a patient, therapists will often place different household items (like a penny or a key) in a container that is filled with rice. The patient then has to rely on their sense of touch and locate the items.
Card sorting is another fun activity, which not only helps with motor skills but also with cognitive ones. Since most people are familiar with a deck of cards, it also brings back a sense of familiarity and gives a sense of confidence to the patient.
Therapists also employ the use of putty to strengthen the hands. They will put it around the thumb and asked the patient to pinch it or place it in the palm and ask the patient to move their thumb towards their pinky finger. Another popular exercise is to put putty around two fingers and ask the patient to spread their fingers apart like a scissor.
A stroke is a terrible thing to happen to anyone and sadly, it is happening to more and more people as times goes by. Thankfully, occupational therapy is a growing profession that aims to lessen the burden and help a patient feel better.