Post-stroke physiotherapy vital to recovery

28 August 2017 - for immediate release


The key message for Stroke Week 2017, which runs from 4 – 10 September, is know the four signs of stroke and act FAST*.

Early recognition of these signs, as well as prompt treatment and rehabilitation will optimise an individual’s recovery and help them achieve their specific health goals.

The revised 2017 Stroke Guidelines, to be released by the Stroke Foundation next week, have a greater consumer focus and recommend that a structured rehab program include as much physiotherapy as possible to aid patient recovery.

APA National Neurological Group Chair Melissa Birnbaum says that physios play a vital role within the multidisciplinary team of medical specialists who treat stroke patients. “Starting a structured rehab program as quickly as possible after a patient has a stroke will optimise their chances of a full, or as full as possible, recovery.”

“Depending on the severity of the stroke, rehab can be done intensively on a one-to-one basis with a physio, or as part of a group circuit class with other stroke patients. This is a supportive environment where the patients can see that everyone is working to achieve their own health and mobility goals. Once patients are back at home, it’s important they keep up their physio rehab to ensure their strength and balance is maintained and they are not at risk of falls.”

Anelia Kennedy, a 37-year-old mum of a toddler from Melbourne, had no stroke risk factors but a previously undiagnosed hole in her heart with a subsequent clot formation precipitated her stroke early in 2016.

Initially Anelia was unable to move the right side of her body and could not speak. Intensive in-patient hospital treatment over the following three months included physio treatment, hydrotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychology.

Upon discharge from hospital Anelia continued to see her physio twice weekly to help achieve her functional goals - ascending and descending the stairs to her back yard, getting up to her daughter at night if needed and picking her daughter up if she was distressed.

Intensive physiotherapy over the ensuing six months saw improvements in Anelia’s right-side strength, independent walking, balance, showering and dressing.

Almost 18 months later, Anelia has now set a new range of functional health goals for herself and continues weekly physio sessions to continue her journey to full recovery, and eventually return to work.

Tony Kelly, a 48-year-old husband and father of two daughters from Perth, was discharged from hospital after a stroke in July 2016. At that time, he required assistance walking short distances and primarily moved around using a powered wheelchair. He also required assistance with showering and moving into/out of bed and his wheelchair.

Intensive physiotherapy focused on the functional goals Tony wanted to achieve – primarily independent showering, walking unaided indoors and transferring himself into and out of bed. A bespoke walking program was put in place for Tony including walking in different environments and incorporated family supported activities as well as electrical stimulation for his weak muscles.

12 months later, Tony has achieved his goal of independence. He no longer requires a powered wheelchair, walks confidently indoors and out and showers himself. His new goal is to return to work as an international sales consultant.

Melissa Birnbaum, Anelia Kennedy and Tony Kellyare available for interviews in the lead up to Stroke Week.

* Face - Check their face - has their mouth drooped?

  Arms - Can they lift both arms?

  Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

  Time - Time is critical; if you see any of these symptoms call 000



For further information, please contact: Julie Dwyer, Communications Manager
T 03 9092 0810 M 0419 176 075  E