NeuroFocus Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic
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Learning about Stroke

A stroke is a life threatening disease that occurs when blood stops flowing to a part of your brain. The area of your brain left damaged and amount of damage has a direct impact a stroke has on your health and body.

The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. The result of a stroke can have an impact on physical functions, communication, emotional and behavioural challenges. These may be paralysis, speech and language problems, memory loss and visual impairment.

There are many different faces of stroke and can affect men, women and children. 9 in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke. Knowing your risks of stroke can have a major impact for prevention. High risk for stroke include unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, stress, drug and alcohol abuse. Small, healthy changes to your lifestyle can reduce the risk of having a stroke.

Speak to your healthcare provider about ways to manage high risk activities, such as a smoking cessation program. Manage existing conditions that are high risk for stroke such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes with medication, treatment and continue to make healthy choices. Find resources or groups within your community to support healthy behaviors.

There are some risk factors you cannot change that contribute to stroke. The older you are the higher your chance is for having a stroke. For females your risk of stroke increases after menopause. If you have a family history, for example a relative who had a stroke your chances increase significantly. People of African and South Asian heritage have a higher risk because they are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease at a younger age.

In the event of a loved one having a stroke, having the proper care and support for their recovery is important for success. Having a stroke team is ideal when it comes to information about whether or not they are ready to safely exercise. A physiotherapist can help you choose a safe and effective program by assessing their personal goals, medical conditions, and abilities. Find a suitable stroke recovery support group to deal with the emotional toll recovery has on your loved one and family.

A stroke is a major life event affecting different abilities in your day to day life. It affects each person differently. Learn about the different physical changes they might experience and ways to manage them. Physical changes can include communication, using your arms and legs, swallowing, bowl and bladder movement. Everyday tasks such as bathing, bathing and grooming may require assistive devices to help you safely perform these activities on your own such as a special shower chair, or an electric shaver for shaving.

Physical and cognitive changes after a stroke can manifest in difficulties when planning and preparing meals. An occupational therapist can help you find devices and strategies to help you manage meal times more independently and safely in the kitchen.

There might be a time in your recovery you may want to return to work. An occupational therapist or vocational counselor can help you decide if you are ready or not. Some key areas will be taken into consideration such as your ability to do a job. They may look at your physical ability, cognitive, communication, emotional ability and ability to get around.

Once your team has established it is time to return to work, figure out what is possible for you in terms of how many hours you would like to put in, part time work or adaptations required for your workplace.

Consistency is key is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk factors that can lead to having a stroke. Be mindful when managing your daily life by making time for exercising, eating meals rich in vegetables, fruits, wholesome whole grains and proteins. Take some time out to relax or meditate, it helps with reducing the day’s stress. Avoid excessive alcohol and speak to your health care provider about help with substance abuse. These little lifestyle changes can help you not only feel better but prevent heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

FAST is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke.

Got Sore Neck?

Did you wake up this morning with a sore neck? Does it feel stiff and tight? Is it painful to look to your left and to your right?

Whether or not you’ve bene sleeping in an awkward position or may have done something strenuous last night, stiff necks are always an inconvenience.

Here are three tips to help you soothe the pain!

1) Massage and Stretch your neck:

You want to find the sore spot(s) and try your best to massage and relieve the muscle. IF you have a tennis ball laying around, you can push yourself up agains the wall with the ball and massage the sore muscle.

You can stretch your neck by bringing your ear to your shoulder or looking up at the ceiling. It is important to stop any of these stretches or massages if you begin to feel more pain or feel dizzy.

2) Utilize heat and cold:

You want to relieve the muscles by applying some heat in the forms of a hotpack or cold through ice/icepacks. The cold will help numb the pain and relieve any tension. The heat will help with promoting further blood circulation to the muscle.

3) Take medication:

IF the pain is unbearable and if it persists, it is recommended that you take some over the counter medicines to help relax and relieve the sore and tight muscles. This should be a last resort after you have tried the top two tips!

If the pain grows unusual and these three tips do not help, it is always good to consider seeing your family doctor in case there are any other complications.

Stay Safe!

Unfortunately, many falls and injuries occur in the comfort one’s own home. More often than not, your home may require you to go up and down a few steps in order to get around. This is a task that many individuals find difficult and have anxiety doing so. In addition, stairs become more difficult when you are recovery from an injury or illness. Here are a few tips to help you be more confident and safe when navigating through stairs in your home or outside in your community.

GOING UP:

If your set of stairs has handrails we advise you to use them! There is an important adage that is used when going up the stairs. Remember the phrase “UP WITH THE GOOD” when going up stairs. You want to lead up with your stronger leg and carry your other leg as you go up. This ensure that your strong leg takes all the weight and keeps you safe as you ascend.

You want to make sure that you stay upright, engage your core muscles and activate the glute to help bring your strong leg up.

GOING DOWN:

Once again if there are handrails, please use them as they will provide solid support. Building off the adage we mentioned earlier, when going down you want to remember the phrase “DOWN WITH THE BAD”. When you go down with the bad, it prevents you from putting all the weight on that weaker leg and use your stronger one for support. Once again, ensure that your core is engaged and that you stay upright.

Remember this is a simple rule that can help you out when going up down stairs within your home or in your community. However, there may be other factors involved such as gait aids or different styles of stairs/handrails. Also, if you need support to go up and down stairs, do not hesitate to ask a friend or family member! It is important that you always consult with your physiotherapist or occupational therapist in order to stay safe.

Do You Use a Walker?

Depending on your current condition, you may find yourself using need to use a walker to help you stay steady and balanced! Walkers are a great tool to help promote stabilization and safe walking.

Unfortunately, walkers can become a hindrance when used incorrectly. Here is are some tips to make sure that you are using your walker safely and correctly!

1) Make sure it is the right height!

Whether you have 4 wheeled walker or a 2 wheeled walker you want to make sure that the walker is not too high nor too low. A high walker can cause balance problems as you body may tilt back due to the extra height. A lower walker will have you slouch and will cause pain in your back and tension around your neck when you are walker.

If there is a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist around, they should be your first option in adjusting your walker as they know what will be correct for you.

However, if you need to figure it out on your own this is what you do:

Relax shoulders and have arm dangle down comfortably. The top of the walker should be the same height as the crease in your wrist.

2) Do not pull on your walker!

When you are standing up from a chair or from your bed, refrain from pulling up on the walker. The walker is not stable enough on the ground and when you pull on the walker, there is a risk of you losing your balance as you fall backwards. Instead, push up form the handles or from the bed when standing up.

Moreover, when sitting down, you want to back up into the chair or bed and make sure the back of your knees touch the surface. Once it is safe, reach back for the chair or bed to sit.

3) Do not pick up your walker!

Many times, people will pick up the walker as they walk forward. This removes the walker from the picture for a moment and increases the risk of you losing your balance. Keep the walker on the floor as you push it around.

These are a few tips to keep you safe with your walker! Remember that practice makes perfect and if you have any questions, it is best to ask your therapist.

Have you ever experienced low back pain?

At some point in your life, you will experience some sort of lower back pain. Back pain can hinder you from completing simple everyday tasks like taking a shower or picking up something off of the floor. Low back pain can be nonspecific which means that it is not attributed or caused by a certain disease or injury. If you are experiencing lower back pain, it is recommended to take actions such as exercise and constant movements.

Here are some quick tips to help you relieve some lower back pain:

-Move! It may seem counterproductive when you are battling pain, but it is recommended to keep moving! Walking is a great exercise to help relieve some of the back pain you may have.

-Take a break from lift any heavy objects. Your back plays a big role when carrying objects, it takes quite a bit of load. It is important not to put your back at risk when you are feeling pain.

-Take any medication prescribed/non-prescribed that can help with some pain relief.

-Utilize heat therapy to help relax some of the muscles.

-Using an ice pack can help if there is any swelling. Ensure that here is a towel between the ice pack and your skin

If your pain persists and you are finding it more difficult to manage in and around your home. Please see your family doctor or consult with a physiotherapist!

What to do before surgery?

Are you or someone you love about to have knee replacement surgery? It can be a scary thought about replacing your knee but proper education and preparation can help you or a love one recover in less time and with less pain.

What to do before surgery?

Exercising before your surgery is recommended. Exercising helps with keeping your muscles strong, controlling your pain, reduce your body weight and helps build your knowledge of how to exercise after your surgery.

What to do expect after your surgery?

Recovery can take up to 12 weeks. We will highlight some exercises and things you can do within these 12 weeks to help your recovery go smoothly.

1-3 WEEKS AFTER SURGERY:

In these first weeks, it is important that you keep your knee pain and swelling under control. Use a combination of ice and heat to help with the swelling and pain.

Some goals that you may have within these first week are being able to bend your knee at least 90 degrees and being able to straighten your knee.

Exercises that can be done:

– Seated kneed bends (this can be done with assistance, using your good leg)
– Seated knee straightening

3-12 WEEKS AFTER SURGERY

After 3 weeks, your knee should feel better and you may be able to adjust your exercise goals and make your exercises harder. You might be given new routines and workouts from your physiotherapist to improve knee strength and balance.

Some goals:

– Fully straighten your knee
– Walk up and go down stairs normally
– Be able to ride stationary bike

Exercises that can be done:

– Standing knee bend
– Calf stretches
– Mini knee bends on kitchen sink (mini squats)
– Heel toe ups

These are just basic guidelines and some education on what to do before and after your knee replacement. It is important as the recovery process can go smoother if you are well educated about what to do! As you recover, continue to exercise and maintain a good level of activity to increase the life of your joint replacement.

You may notice that your muscles may be stiff and require stretching! Once again, ask your physiotherapist if there are any stretches that can be done to help relieve this stiffness and regain your flexibility.

Everyone is different! Always double check with your physiotherapist regarding what exercises you can or cannot do. Safety is the number one rule when recovering! Happy recovery!

What to do after your hip replacement?

What to do after your hip replacement?

Now that you have had your hip replacement what are some of the things you can do to ease your rehabilitation process? In order to stay safe and avoid any further injuries or setbacks, education on how to live post surgery is key. Here are a few tips on what to do after having a hip replacement.

1) Be aware of hip precautions! It is important to be aware of the movements that are restricted to ensure proper rehabilitation and recovery of your new hip. These movements include, bending past 90 degrees, twisting at your waist, and crossing your legs. These precautions can last up to 6-8 weeks so it is important to practice doing activities of daily living such as dressing while keeping these precautions.

2) Exercises! Despite having hip precautions, you can still do exercises! There are many exercises on the bed that you can do to help promote blood circulation and prevent clots!

-Calf squeezes
-Ankle Pumps
-Glute Squeezes
-Standing
-Walking

3) It is important to have the right equipment to help facilitate your recovery! It will be helpful to own long handed reachers, sock aids, a cane or a walker to help you with your daily movements. It is important to consult with your physiotherapist and/or your occupational therapist to get these equipments and be taught how to use them correctly.

Moreover, ensure that your living space at home is set up to help aid you in your recovery. High chairs to help you keep your precautions, bed rails and shower rails to help promote safety. It is important that your living space becomes a safe area that will not put you in risk of getting injured or having a fall during your recovery period.

Getting a hip replacement may sound like a dawning task. However, proper education on precautions, exercises and equipment will help you go through this period after your surgery.

Tips to reduce joint pain when living with Arthritis

Tips to reduce joint pain when living with Arthritis:

Arthritis has the potential to negatively affect one’s quality of life. The pain and discomfort in one’s joints can make simple and every day tasks difficult. For example, putting on a shirt or cooking a meal can take twice as long and can be very painful. Here are 5 tis on how to reduce joint and muscle pain when living with Arthritis.

1) Monitor Energy Levels

Your energy levels will be affected when living with Arthritis. It is important to plan out your day and prioritize the activities that need to be done. For example, complete all the strenuous and difficult tasks during the beginning of the day when you have the most energy and do simple tasks as the day ends. It is important to monitor your energy to reduce risks of injury or fatigue to your joints and muscles.

2) Utilize Hot & Cold therapy   

Joint pain can be relieved with hot and cold therapy. Taking a long warm bath can help soothe any stiffness in your joints. Cold therapy (ice packs, cold gels) can help with swelling and inflammation. It is important to be aware of these treatments to help tackle and pain you may encounter.

3) Use large joints/Body mechanics

It is important to take stress off the smaller joints by using your larger joints and utilizing proper body mechanics. Keep large items close to your body and use your legs to lift items. Slide heavy items along counters if possible to make it easier on your joints.

4) Use adaptive equipment

Equipment with large handles that limit the use of the finer joints will help. Tubing that can be installed to handles will also have a benefit when doing work in the kitchen. If a physiotherapist or occupational therapist recommends any special equipment, continue to use it safely.

5) Get help!

There will be situations where you may be fatigued, in pain, or just unable to complete a task. It is not advised to do a difficult task on your own when you start feeling these symptoms. The risk of injury increases. If possible, get a friend or a family member to help you out and assist with some of the larger tasks!

Fall Prevention in the Elderly Community

A fall can happen to anyone and can happen anywhere and anytime. There are different degrees of falls and while some may have minor consequences, they can be devastating to many individuals. In the older population, falls account for almost 95% of hip fractures and 85% of all injury related hospitalizations.

Unfortunately, as we age the risk of experiencing a fall increases. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening and here are a few tips for keeping you on your feet!

1) Exercise and stay active!

You are reduce the likelihood of a fall when you have strong muscles and good balance. You can ask your doctor, physiotherapist or a trainer what the best type of exercise program is for you!

- At least 30 minutes a day will benefit you greatly
- Work out different aspects of your physical health (strength training, cardio health, flexibility)
- Join a gym or contact your nearest senior center for programs and classes you could attend

2) Use Safety Aids

Do not be embarrassed by your safety aids! They are there to keep you safe and prevent you from having an injury!

- Do not forget to wear your glasses if you need them. Vision is very important in preventing future falls.
- Use your walker or cane if you need it. Make sure that it is set on the correct height and safe for you to use.
- Wear proper footwear! Use shoes that are comfortable to wear and provide stability for your feet.

3) Keep your home safe!

In the older population, 50% of all falls causing hospitalization occur in the home. Individuals may trip on loose rugs, wires or even their own pets! It is important to keep your living room space safe as you may spend most of your time at home.

- Have good lighting around the home. Being able to see obstacles and dangers risks reduce the chances of falling
- Get rid of some clutter and some extra wires around the home. Consider cordless phones or cordless devices.
- Use non slip mats in the bathroom as many falls can happen in the bathroom.
- Store kitchen supplies in easy to reach areas. Strategically place heavy items in lower cupboards to avoid reaching
- Ask for help if you need something to be done in the house that is difficult!

4) Nutrition

A balance nutrition will allow your body to stay strong and healthy. Therefore, reducing the likelihood a fall.

- Eat a healthy and balanced nutrition. Lots of fruits and veggies.
- Do not skip meals as they may cause dizziness and weakness.

These are a few tips that can help you or your loved one prevent any future falls from happening!