Post-stroke care: Physical, occupational and speech therapy can improve recovery

Your Health Matters

A 2020 update from the American Heart Association notes that someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. The need for post-stroke care is apparent, especially in the form of comprehensive services, including physical, occupational and speech therapy.

Three certified brain injury specialists — Patty Runkles, Kim Weaver and Anna Peterson — at Meritus Total Rehab Care, have offered information for readers on all three areas of therapy and how each helps with post-stroke care.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy will help stroke patients reduce pain and spasticity — altered skeletal muscle performance; unusual tightness, stiffness or pull of muscles — or improve weakness and balance issues. An experienced physical therapist like those at Meritus Total Rehab Care can determine an individualized treatment plan for a patient, post-stroke.

State-of-the-art equipment used in these treatment plans include the L300 Go System (Bioness), which assists with walking, and the Balance Master for testing and treating issues with the vestibular system, often impacted following a stroke. For patients who are not able to walk or move about well or have significant difficulty standing, a Lite Gait/treadmill system is on site. An RT300 Stim Bike is also available to assist with cycling for patients who have residual weakness on one side of the body.

Therapy may include sessions in a therapeutic salt-water pool on site to help a patient focus on regaining strength. Evaluations are also available for those individuals who may require an appropriate wheelchair and cushions for continued relief and care.

Occupational therapy

To help a stroke patient regain the ability to use their arms for more independence for self-care and household activities, occupational therapy may be best.

Evidence-based techniques and technology, including the Bioness H200, RT300 Stim Bike, Saebo devices and Dynavision visuomotor training devices, can be incorporated into individual therapy plans. The therapist will work to get a patient’s stroke-affected arm and hand to reach, grasp and release objects again. If vision has been affected, the occupational therapists can offer safe strategies to cope with this change. A good deal of teaching and practice goes into learning strategies to safely complete self-care activities — everything from getting dressed, taking a shower, washing the dishes and cooking.

Speech therapy

Speech therapy will help post-stroke patients address communication barriers, swallowing difficulties and cognitive dysfunction. Speech-language pathologists provide evaluations to design an individualized treatment plan, treatment and home practice for a patient to be able to regain important life functions — eating, drinking, speaking, understanding, remembering, problem solving and organizing.

The neuro-therapy program at Meritus Total Rehab Care also offers social work services to assist with other post-stroke needs that may fall outside of the standard therapy services offered. The experienced team of professional therapists provides a multidisciplinary, neuro-rehabilitation program known to lead the way in providing individuals with positive outcomes following a stroke.

Meritus Total Rehab Care offers outpatient neurological rehabilitation at 11110 Medical Campus Drive, suite 201 in the Robinwood Professional Center in Hagerstown. To learn more, call 301-714-4025 or visit