The Vital Role of Neurophysiotherapy in Stroke Rehabilitation

Leading Welsh Neurophysiotherapist and Clinical Director for Neurophysio Wales, Sara Davis discusses the benefits of early neurophysiotherapy in stroke rehabilitation – and explains why results can still be positive if the stroke happened years ago

Both in the NHS and in our private neurophysiotherapy clinic, stroke rehabilitation is a growing area – not least because of the sheer volume of stroke sufferers.

Every year more than 100,000 people have a stroke; or one person has a stroke every five minutes.

Physiotherapy can make a huge difference to both your recovery and your risk of having another stroke – in fact, according to the CSP,  performing the right exercise can cut the risk of another stroke by as much as 35%.

What is a stroke

A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or is blocked by a clot, interrupting the blood supply to the brain.

This can sometimes damage or destroy brain cells and the impact will depend on which part of the brain is affected.  For example, if the part of the brain that controls movement of a limb is damaged by the stroke, then the individual may have difficulty moving their arm or leg.

Strokes can affect everything from body movement to processing, communication, emotions and learning – or may impact on only one area.

How can Neurophysiotherapy help stroke rehabiliation?

The human brain is remarkable – even when an area of the brain becomes damaged, the brain is able to compensate for this by creating new neural pathways, with different areas of the brain taking on the damaged functions.

We call this neuroplasticity.

Neurophysiotherapy involves specific exercises and treatments to help facilitate this process, improving  recovery of function and mobility after stroke. NICE recommends a minimum of 45 minutes of physiotherapy five days a week as part of a seven-day specialist stroke rehabilitation service. High intensity therapy is needed to relearn lost abilities, and most NHS trusts offer this.

However, even years after a stroke, the same treatments can still deliver these benefits

The differences between a neurophysiotherapist and a normal physiotherapist

While all physiotherapists receive some degree of training in stroke rehabilitation, a neurophysiotherapist is an expert who has received specialist training to work with patients who have suffered a stroke or other neurological condition or injury.

There is a huge demand for NHS neurophysiotherapy services, which can mean treatment options are limited, and in our private clinic, some clients choose us to supplement or continue treatment after their NHS treatments have ended and others choose us because they need a home or care home visit.

As a private neurophysiotherapist, we are able to offer the latest technology to all patients, whereas access on the NHS to tools like Saeboflex and neuromuscular stimulation may be limited.  These tools are fast becoming useful allies and we see them delivering very real benefits for our clients.

If you are already receiving NHS physiotherapy treatment and would like additional help or guidance, or access to our technology, we are also happy to work alongside your NHS physiotherapist and agree a joint treatment plan. We are client-led, which means we will work with you alongside any other NHS or external treatments you are receiving to reach the best outcome for you.

Where can a patient expect to see improvements during stroke rehabilitation treatment

No two stroke survivors are alike but typically during treatment, clients will notice gradual improvements in:

  • Improved walking and balance
  • Improved arm and hand function
  • reduced post stroke shoulder pain
  • re-educate normal movement patterns
  • Reduced muscle weakness
  • Reduced post stroke fatigue
  • Improved sitting balance
  • Improved co-ordination
  • Improved strength
  • Improved sensation
  • Improved awareness

Physiotherapists are also able to provide advice on specialist splints and mobility aids – at Neuro Physio Wales we actually offer a free assessment for Saebo electrical stimulation devices, because it’s something we believe passionately in, the feedback we get from clients using these is always fantastic.

Can Physio help older stroke patients?

Even if you suffered a stroke some time ago, its worth getting a new assessment from either an NHS or private neurophysiotherapist – modern stroke rehabilitation techniques can still deliver massive benefits, and our knowledge of the brain is improving all the time.  We are used to seeing life-changing results and it’s an exciting field of physiotherapy to work in at the moment.

The good news for stroke patients is that rehabilitation outcomes are improving as our knowledge and new technology combine to help clients reach new rehabilitation goals – our field changes lives every day.


About the author

Sara Davis is a qualified Neurophysiotherapist and Clinical Director for Neurophysio Wales.  To learn more about Sara and the clinic’s work with stroke patients,  brain injuries, diseases and neurological conditions, visit here: