If you or a loved one has ever had a stroke, you may have been surprised how quickly they are set up with geriatric rehabilitation services to begin their physical and other therapies. Oftentimes, their first appointment is within twenty-four hours of the medical event. Here is a look at the components of physiological therapy for stroke survivors.

Lifestyle Changes

The first post-stroke step is to begin changing any habits that are not conducive to recovery. This may be starting a smoking cessation program, exploring drinking habits and ways to reduce or eliminate consumption, and implementing new dietary guidelines. While most stroke survivors are initially receptive to making these important changes as they are understandably shaken by their experience, it's important that support systems are in place to provide care, feedback, and guidance through what is often a difficult process. Dieticians are often a part of this initial process.


The next step, which will also begin virtually immediately, is learning exercises. Physical therapy is a key component of geriatric rehabilitation services. A stroke usually leaves the patient with muscle weakness or partial paralysis. In order to regain muscle control and strength, regular, specific, and targeted exercises must be done daily. This can sometimes take many months. For example, some patients may need to completely learn how to walk again. This can be a frustrating time for many stroke survivors as it is difficult to be a grown adult and not able to do the things they are accustomed to doing for themselves. The physical therapist will design a program that is tailored to the stroke survivor's needs.

Speech Therapy

It is not uncommon for the stroke survivor's speech to be adversely affected after a stroke. There may be other complications as well, such as being unable to fully close the mouth, which can lead to embarrassing behaviors such as drooling or an inability to wear their dentures. The sooner speech therapy begins, the sooner the patient can regain control.

Relearning Skills

Occupational therapists help the stroke survivor relearn the skills that are necessary for regaining independence. Patients will work through a series of exercises that encourage the ability to perform the activities of daily living on their own. This includes things such as bathing and toileting, dressing themselves, feeding themselves, brushing their teeth, preparing meals, and cleaning their home. It also includes relearning skills that require fine motor skills and dexterity, such as handwriting.