The rehabilitation efforts of the patient who sustained a brain bleed is ideally handled by the Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy teams, under the control of a Physiatrist, a physician specializing in Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation.
The rules of thumb are the following:
- brain tissue does not regenerate and there currently is NO regenerative approach (such as stem cell therapy) proven to help stroke patients. There are ongoing early phase clinical studies but otherwise the potential stem cell treatments are nowhere close to show any benefit at that time
- recovery after a stroke may be partial or near complete but the mechanism is typically through healthy parts of the brain taking over the function of the damaged brain tissue. In order to make this happen, rehabilitation and the repetitive use of the weaker body parts is very important
- the bulk of stroke recovery happen within the first 6 months but some patients continue to improve for 1-2 years. It should also be remembered that failure to use the weaker body parts even at later timeframes, can result in decline in neurological function. Motivation of the patient is of paramount importance to regain function and to keep the milestones achieved.
It is ideal to discuss the time to start rehabilitation efforts, their intensity and the modalities to be used with a Physiatrist, starting early after a stroke.