Managing Fatigue In Stroke Recovery: Physiotherapy Strategies

Management of fatigue in recovery from stroke is an important aspect of the rehabilitation process. Fatigue is a common symptom of stroke survivors and can greatly affect treatment and ability to engage in daily life. Physical therapy plays an important role in combating fatigue and helping people regain strength and mobility. 

Here are some strategies that physical therapists can use to manage fatigue as you recover from a stroke.

Techniques to save energy:

Physical therapists teach stroke survivors techniques to conserve energy throughout the day. This includes prioritising activities, taking regular breaks, and scheduling breaks between tasks. By keeping pace and avoiding excessive exercise, individuals can better manage fatigue.

Graded exercise program:

A physical therapist develops a step-by-step exercise program tailored to your individual ability and fatigue level. These programs gradually increase in intensity over time, helping stroke survivors improve stamina and endurance. A physical therapist monitors an individual’s response to exercise and adjusts the program accordingly.

Aerobic training:

Aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, improves cardiovascular health and reduces fatigue. Physical therapists guide stroke survivors in doing aerobic exercises appropriate to their abilities. A treadmill, exercise bike, or other equipment can be used to promote aerobic exercise.

Strength training:

Strengthening exercises help improve strength and endurance and improve overall functional skills. A physical therapist will prescribe specific exercises that target the affected area, taking care to correct muscle imbalances. Gradually increasing resistance and repetition will help you overcome fatigue and restore strength. 

Balance and coordination exercises:

Balance and coordination exercises are essential to improve mobility and reduce the risk of falls. Physical therapists use a variety of techniques such as standing exercises, weight shifts, and balance boards to improve balance and coordination. The more confident the affected person performs the movement, the less fatigue they will experience.

Task-specific training:

Physiotherapists focus on training functional activities that are important for stroke survivors. By practising specific tasks such as dressing, cleaning, and reaching for objects, individuals can develop efficient movement patterns and reduce unnecessary fatigue associated with compensatory movements.

Education and self-management:

Physical therapists educate stroke survivors and their caregivers about fatigue management strategies. It offers tips on adjusting activity, conserving energy and recognizing warning signs of overexertion. Better results can be achieved when individuals are empowered to take an active role in managing fatigue.

Auxiliary equipment:

Physical therapists can recommend and train stroke survivors to use assistive devices such as canes, walkers, and braces. These devices help conserve energy, improve mobility, and reduce the overall burden of fatigue. 

Breathing and relaxation techniques:

Fatigue can be exacerbated by tension and shallow breathing. A physical therapist can teach relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to promote relaxation and reduce fatigue. These techniques can also help you manage stress and improve your overall health.

Sleep and Rest Recommendations:

A physical therapist can offer advice on how to optimise your sleep and rest patterns. Promoting good sleep hygiene, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment contribute to improved overall energy levels and reduced fatigue. It is important to note that the specific strategies used by physical therapists may vary depending on the individual’s unique needs and stage of recovery after stroke. 

A comprehensive approach that addresses the physical, cognitive, and emotional aspects of fatigue management is usually most effective. Collaboration with other members of the stroke rehabilitation team, such as occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, is also essential for a holistic and collaborative approach to managing fatigue in stroke recovery.  

Leave a Reply