Many stroke survivors must relearn the activities of daily living after stroke.
The biggest goal for occupational therapists during stroke rehabilitation is to restore the patient’s ability to perform the activities of daily living.
Let’s take a look at what those activities are and how to relearn them.
What Are the Activities of Daily Living?
The activities of daily living (ADL’s) are:
The ADL’s are the basics of self-care.
Regaining the ability to perform the activities of daily living involves intense physical and occupational therapy.
Below we suggest some exercises to help you get back to the activities of daily living at home.
Relearning the Activities of Daily Living After Stroke
To get regain your independence and get back to the activities of daily living after stroke, try the following exercises.
Sometimes stroke side effects like dysphagia impair your ability to swallow after stroke.
Exercise: Practice speech therapy exercises, especially movements that focus on tongue control
Good hygiene can be difficult after stroke when patients are at higher risk of falling in the bathtub.
Exercise: Install grab bars and seats in the shower to improve safety. Also, practice stroke rehab exercises to improve mobility and motor control.
Getting dressed is a full-body activity. Stroke patients may find that getting dressed requires more time due to mobility impairments.
Exercise: Focus on restoring movement on the affected side through therapeutic rehab exercise. (Notice a trend here?)
Moving safely after stroke often requires the help of mobility aids, like walkers and canes, and a solid rehab exercise program.
Exercise: Use your mobility aids, especially when there are no caregivers around. When it’s safe to do so, practice transferring on your own to avoid over-relying on compensation techniques.
Some stroke patients struggle with controlling their bladder and bowels after stroke, a condition known as incontinence after stroke.
Exercise: Practice urgency control exercises and Kegel exercises to improve continence
Using the bathroom requires many different skills, like transferring and continence.
Exercise: Again, a strong rehabilitation exercise regimen can help you master this activity of daily living.
Does Task-Specific Training Help with Stroke Rehabilitation?
In the clinic, your occupational therapist will lead you through task-specific training to improve you ability to perform the activities of daily living.
Task-specific training simply involves directly doing the task that you want to do. So if you want to walk, then task-specific training will involve walking.
While task-specific training is excellent for rehabilitation, it’s difficult to do on your own at home.
So when you’re with your therapists in the clinic, take advantage of the special equipment and make sure you’re getting task-specific exercises done.
But when you’re doing physical therapy at home, it’s tough to do tasks like walking if you’re in a wheelchair.
For this reason, repetitive rehabilitation exercise is often the best option. These movements help translate into the activities of daily living that you want to achieve.
Getting Back to the Activities of Daily Living
Overall, the best way to recover from stroke is repetitive practice of the skills you want to rebuild.
If you want to get better at eating, then practicing speech therapy exercises will help you regain control of your oral muscles and eating patterns.
Similarly, if you need to get better at continence, then practicing urgency control exercises can help you get better at controlling your bladder movements.
At the end of the day, it’s all about using repetitive practice to rewire the brain after stroke.