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Do you struggle to find motivation to exercise? You are not alone.

Do you struggle to find motivation to exercise? You are not alone.

Neurophysical conditions treatment

A frequent barrier to exercise participation I see as an exercise physiologist is a lack of motivation to exercise. If this is you, don’t stress, you are not alone. As an exercise physiologist, I routinely provide clients with exercise programs designed to achieve a particular goal. The ability to reach the goal hinges on the client’s motivation to complete the program. Some clients I meet are eager to complete their program and do really well achieving their goals, but the vast majority find it difficult to engage.

So how can I help a client increase their motivation if they are struggling with engagement? I’d like to share a story to introduce the concept of motivation and describe what it is.

I attended my six-monthly hygiene appointment the other day and was bombarded with education on why I should floss more. The hygienist was kind and informative as she told me my current flossing routine was not up to par. She even provided some healthy fear when she told me the gum around my left-sided molars is mildly inflamed. She provided strategies to assist me in flossing more frequently and even gave me a tool to make it easier. But I am probably not going to floss more, why?

To understand, we need to talk about the different sources of motivation and how we can evoke it in ourselves and the people we influence.

Simply put, motivation is the ‘what’ behind our behaviour. When you place a jumper on a frosty morning, you’re motivated to stay warm. When you prepare your lunch, you’re motivated to appease your hunger. When you go to bed early you’re motivated to feel fresh the following day. All of these motives enable us to survive and be as comfortable as possible. Flossing serves a purpose, and I am sure some people floss on a regular basis without any conscious thought of effort, but for many, it is an activity we do not complete. This is often because the repercussion of not engaging in this behaviour is not felt immediately. 

So, hygienists tell us to do better. They inform us how simple it is and notify us of the risks involved when we do not complete the task. Unfortunately, this form of motivation is extrinsic, meaning the ‘what’ driving the behaviour is an external reward. If we follow the direction of the hygienist, we are rewarded with praise at our follow-up appointment. If we continue to avoid the task we find ourselves educated once more at our next review.

Extrinsic motivation is a powerful force and often results in immediate changes in behaviour; however, the change is often short-lived, and we normally do revert back to old habits once the extrinsic reward is removed. So, what can we do? How can I save my gums from the possibility of gingivitis in the long term? 

To do this, I need a different source of motivation, a force that is enduring and often results in pleasure and reward simply from completing the task itself. This is called intrinsic motivation. So how do I make a task like flossing pleasurable? That is a great question and worthy of exploration, as answering this question could help you engage in the exercise program you’ve been putting off for the last six months or stick to the diet you’ve been on for the past twelve. To discover this, tune in to our next blog post.

When You’re Struggling with Motivation

Let’s recap from where we left off. You’ve been given an exercise program, but you just can’t quite find the motivation to do it. You know that if you do it you will receive the extrinsic motivator of praise when you next see your therapist, but you still cannot commit to the task. So how can you transform extrinsic motivation into intrinsic?

Step 1. 

Take a moment to think about the healthy behaviour and how your life would change if you were to do it. Take some time and make notes. You may even write down what would happen if you did not complete the healthy behaviour.

Step 2.

Think about your history with healthy behaviour. Have you previously done what is being asked of you now? Was your life better or worse because of it?

Step 3. 

Imagine yourself in 5 years’ time if you were to complete the healthy behaviour. Think about what other things you’d be capable of if you were to complete the desired behaviour.

Step 4.

Write down some goals. When creating goals, make them personal and meaningful to you. See if you can link in the healthy behaviour to the goal achievement.

Step 5.

Enlist support. Changing habits is hard, so why not make it a little bit easier and embrace the support of a friend?

Working through steps 1 to 5 will help you build your own why, this will remove you from being controlled by another person’s directions. 

So how does this link into my toothflossing scenario? 

If I were to consider my future without flossing, I might see more dental visits and possible issues with gum disease later in life. This could negatively affect my finances and my gum appearance could change. 

I would realise my history of flossing was pleasant, and that I felt secure about my gum health between dental appointments. This decreased my overall sense of anxiety. I could imagine myself in five years’ time attending appointments and being praised for my good work and my healthy smile. I could set a goal to floss three times a week and create a system to record this. I could employ my partner as my accountability buddy and ask him to also floss with me.

The point of this exercise is not the answers that are created along the way, the point is that I am the source of the answers. So on the question of how to get motivated to exercise, the answer can be found within yourself. When motivation comes from within it is much more powerful and the behaviour that flows from it lasts much longer than an external force.

The Power of Exercise in Managing Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide. While there is no cure for PD, research has shown that exercise can significantly assist in managing its symptoms and improving quality of life as the disease progresses. In this blog, we will explore the remarkable benefits of exercise for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and how an exercise routine can contribute to their overall well-being.

1. Improved Motor Function

One of the primary advantages of exercise in managing Parkinson’s disease is its positive impact on motor function. Regular physical activity, such as aerobic exercise, strength training, and balance exercises, has been proven to enhance motor performance, gait, and overall mobility in individuals with PD. This helps people live with Parkinson’s disease with greater ease and more independence by making everyday movements easier.

2. Neuroprotective Effects 

Exercise has also demonstrated neuroprotective effects, meaning regular engagement in exercise can slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. It is believed that this is due to physical activity promoting the release of neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports the survival and growth of neurons. A study published in the journal Brain found that high-intensity exercise increased the levels of BDNF in the brain, contributing to improved brain neuroplasticity and slowing down the disease progression.

3. Symptom Management

Exercise plays a crucial role in managing the various symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Regular physical activity can help reduce rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and tremors. Moreover, exercises that focus on flexibility and range of motion can alleviate muscle stiffness and improve posture. A randomized controlled trial published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation demonstrated that individuals with PD who engaged in a specific exercise program experienced significant improvements in motor symptoms and functional abilities compared to those who did not participate in the program.

4. Psychological Well-being

In addition to its physical benefits, exercise also has a profound impact on the psychological well-being of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Depression and anxiety are common in PD patients due to the challenges they face. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce these symptoms and improve mood by boosting endorphin levels and reducing stress. Furthermore, participating in exercise programs provides social interaction and a sense of community, which can help combat feelings of isolation. Engaging in group exercises or joining support groups can provide a valuable support network, enabling individuals with PD to connect with others who understand their experiences.

Exercise is a powerful tool in the management of Parkinson’s disease. It offers benefits ranging from improved motor function and neuroprotection to symptom management and enhanced psychological well-being. By incorporating regular Parkinson exercises into their daily routine, individuals with Parkinson’s disease can take an active role in managing their condition and improving their overall quality of life.

Resources:

Tang, L., Fang, Y. and Yin, J., 2019. The effects of exercise interventions on Parkinson’s disease: a Bayesian network meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 70, pp.47-54

Ahmad, S.O., Longhurst, J., Stiles, D., Downard, L. and Martin, S., 2023. A meta-analysis of exercise intervention and the effect on Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. Neuroscience Letters, 801, p.137162.

Hirsch, M.A., Iyer, S.S. and Sanjak, M., 2016. Exercise-induced neuroplasticity in human Parkinson’s disease: what is the evidence telling us?. Parkinsonism & related disorders, 22, pp.S78-S81.

Chen, K., Tan, Y., Lu, Y., Wu, J., Liu, X. and Zhao, Y., 2020. Effect of exercise on quality of life in Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Parkinson’s Disease, 2020.

The Power of Exercise: Managing Motor Neuron Disease

Motor Neuron Disease (MND), a group of neurodegenerative disorders affecting the nerve cells responsible for controlling muscle movement, poses significant challenges for individuals diagnosed with it. However, emerging research and anecdotal evidence suggest that regular exercise can play a crucial role in managing the symptoms and improving the overall quality of life for people with MND. In this blog, we explore how exercising assists with managing Motor Neuron Disease and highlight its potential benefits.

Understanding Motor Neuron Disease

Motor Neuron Disease encompasses a range of disorders, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), and Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA). These conditions lead to the progressive degeneration of motor neurone cells, resulting in muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and, ultimately, difficulties with mobility, breathing, and swallowing.

How to Manage Motor Neuron Disease: The Role of Exercise

Exercise plays a vital role when it comes to treating motor neurone disease. While exercise cannot halt or reverse the progression of motor neurone disease (MND), it can significantly improve physical functioning, delay muscle wasting, and enhance overall well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity offers several benefits that can assist in managing the symptoms and slowing the progression of motor neuron diseases.

Maintaining Muscle Strength and Function 

Exercise, including resistance training and stretching exercises, can help preserve muscle strength and prevent muscle wasting. By engaging in regular physical activity, individuals with MND can maintain functional independence for a longer period. Furthermore, exercise improves muscle endurance and coordination, making daily activities more manageable.

Enhancing Respiratory Function 

Respiratory muscle weakness is a common symptom of MND. However, aerobic exercises and respiratory training can strengthen the respiratory muscles, improve lung capacity, and enhance breathing efficiency. These exercises, combined with breathing techniques, can help individuals with MND manage respiratory symptoms, increase tolerance to physical exertion, and potentially reduce the risk of respiratory complications.

Promoting Psychological Well-being 

MND not only affects physical functioning but also takes a toll on mental health. Regular exercise has been shown to alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress, which are commonly associated with chronic illnesses. Engaging in physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones, improving mood and promoting a positive outlook on life. Additionally, exercise can enhance self-esteem and provide a sense of control and accomplishment.

Incorporating exercise into the management plan for Motor Neuron Disease can offer numerous benefits. It can help individuals with MND maintain muscle strength and function, improve respiratory capacity, and boost psychological well-being. While each person’s exercise program should be tailored to their abilities and limitations, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals experienced in MND to ensure safe and effective exercise practices. By embracing physical activity, individuals with MND can improve their overall quality of life and enhance their ability to manage the disease.

Resources:

Pinto, A., Alves, M., Nogueira, A., Evangelista, T., Carvalho, L., & de Carvalho, M. (2018). Exercise for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6), CD012928. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012928.pub2

Lunetta, C., Lizio, A., Sansone, V., Cellotto, N. M., Maestri, E., Bettinelli, M., … & Tremolizzo, L. (2016). Muscle rehabilitation: its effect on patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. BioMed research international, 2016. doi: 10.1155/2016/4016874

Sanjak, M., Masterman, D., Smith, R., & Taylor, A. (2020). The Role of Exercise in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Scoping Review. Frontiers in Neurology, 11, 661. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00661

Looking for high-quality therapy for yourself or someone you care about?

Our skilled and compassionate allied health team provides neurological rehabilitation throughout the Sunshine Coast, Gympie and Tin Can Bay.

Get in touch with us to discuss the services we offer to help patients in their recovery from neurological disorders.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Neurophysical conditions treatment

Expert Advice: Understanding Multiple Sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an incredibly complex and debilitating condition. According to MS Australia, MS is the most common acquired chronic neurological disease affecting young adults, with the average age of diagnosis falling between 20 to 40. And with no cure and no known single cause of MS, this condition remains a bit of a mystery.

Read on to learn more about what MS is, as well as the causes, symptoms and treatments available. 

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and often disabling neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve fibres, known as myelin. Myelin acts like insulation around nerve fibers and facilitates the smooth transmission of electrical impulses between the brain and the rest of the body.

The immune system’s attack on myelin leads to inflammation, damage and the formation of scar tissue (sclerosis) in multiple areas of the CNS. This process disrupts the normal flow of electrical impulses along the nerves, resulting in a wide range of symptoms. The severity and specific symptoms can vary widely among individuals with MS and often depend on the location and extent of nerve damage.

Types of multiple sclerosis

MS can manifest in different ways. There are several distinct types of MS that are based on the pattern of symptoms and disease progression. 

Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)

As the most common form of MS, individuals with RRMS experience episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as relapses or exacerbations, followed by periods of partial or complete recovery (remission). During remission, there can be no apparent progression of the disease.

Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)

Some individuals with RRMS eventually transition to secondary progressive MS. In this stage, there is a gradual and steady worsening of neurological function over time, with or without occasional relapses or remissions. The progression tends to be more consistent than in RRMS.

Primary Progressive MS (PPMS)

PPMS is characterised by a steady worsening of symptoms from the onset, without distinct relapses or remissions. People with PPMS may experience occasional plateaus or temporary improvements, but overall, the disease progresses without the typical pattern seen in RRMS.

The course and progression of MS tend to vary significantly among individuals, with some transitioning from one type to another over time. Due to the nature of the condition, it’s essential for individuals with MS to work closely with healthcare professionals to monitor and manage their symptoms effectively. Treatment plans are often tailored to the specific type of MS and the individual’s unique circumstances.

What are the causes of multiple sclerosis?

The exact cause of MS is still not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors:

  • Genetics: There is evidence that a genetic predisposition plays a role in susceptibility to MS. Individuals with a family history of MS have a slightly higher risk of developing the condition. However, MS is not directly inherited and it’s likely that multiple genes are involved.
  • Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors may contribute to the development of MS, especially in individuals with a genetic predisposition. For example, infections, like the Epstein-Barr virus that causes glandular fever, and vitamin D deficiencies have both been linked to MS.
  • Geography and climate: MS prevalence varies geographically, with higher rates observed in temperate climates and at higher latitudes. This has led researchers to investigate the potential role of sunlight exposure, vitamin D production and other environmental factors in the development of MS.
  • Immune system dysfunction: MS is considered an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. In the case of MS, the immune system targets the myelin sheath, which is the protective covering around nerve fibers in the CNS. This immune response leads to inflammation and the formation of scar tissue.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking has been identified as a potential environmental risk factor for MS. Smokers, especially those with a genetic predisposition, may have an increased risk of developing the condition.

What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

Everyone experiences MS differently with no two people experiencing the exact same symptoms. MS symptoms can be an isolated incidence, they can come and go or they can even vary in intensity over time. 

Common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

  • Fatigue,
  • Visual disturbances,
  • Dizziness and vertigo,
  • Anxiety,
  • Tremors,
  • Muscle weakness and coordination problems,
  • Sensory disturbances,
  • Cognitive difficulties,
  • Bowel and bladder issues, and
  • Emotional changes.

Multiple sclerosis treatment

While there’s no known cure for MS, there are a number of treatments used to help manage symptoms and modify the course of the disease. 

There are currently 16 ‘disease modifying treatments’ (DMTs) registered for use in Australia. DMTs are a group of medications designed to modify the course of MS by reducing the frequency and severity of relapses, as well as slowing down disease progression. Different DMTs work in various ways, from suppressing the immune system to targeting specific inflammatory pathways. The specific DMT depends on factors like the type of MS, the individual’s health and their preferences.

Alternatively, when it comes to multiple sclerosis, occupational therapy (OT) can help you to regain your independence and function. From building your capacity to complete simple everyday tasks to providing complex home modifications, an OT will work with you to understand your goals and help you achieve them. 

At Community NeuroRehab Service, we have a number of highly skilled occupational therapists who specialise in helping people with neurological conditions, like MS. We recommend a multi-disciplinary approach to treat Multiple Sclerosis including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Exercise Physiology. Reach out to us to see how our OTs can help you manage your condition.

Can Physiotherapy Help With Nerve Pain?

Neurophysical conditions treatment

Can Physiotherapy Help With Nerve Pain?

 

Nerve pain can cause all kinds of uncomfortable and painful symptoms. While nerve pain often affects everyone differently, the good news is that there are a range of treatment options available to you, including physiotherapy and exercise physiology. 

What is nerve pain?

Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia, is a type of pain that’s caused by damage or dysfunction of the nervous system. Unlike the typical pain that arises from tissue damage (nociceptive pain), nerve pain results from abnormal signaling or misinterpretation of signals between the nerves and your brain.

While nerve pain can affect any nerve in your body, it often affects certain nerves more than others, like:

  • Phantom Limb Pain
  • Chronic Pain as a result of brain injury.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Functional Neurological Disorder

Nerve pain symptoms

Nerve pain can manifest in various ways and symptoms may differ depending on the underlying cause. Not to mention, nerve pain can range in severity from mild to severe pain. Some people even find their nerve pain worsens at night.

Common symptoms of nerve pain include:

  • Burning sensations,
  • Sharp or stabbing pain,
  • Tingling or pins and needles,
  • Electric shock-like pain,
  • Numbness,
  • Radiating pain,
  • Increased sensitivity,
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy,
  • Disrupted sleep, and
  • Changes in reflexes.

With so many symptoms, it’s no wonder that nerve pain can cause huge disruption to people’s lives. From impacting their ability to exercise to interfering with their sleep, in some instances, nerve pain can end up affecting people’s mental health and general wellbeing. 

Causes of nerve pain

There are various conditions that can lead to nerve pain, including:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: Damage to the peripheral nerves, often caused by conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune conditions, infections, traumatic injuries or certain medications,
  • Sciatica: Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically resulting in pain that radiates down the leg,
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: A condition affecting the trigeminal nerve, leading to intense facial pain,
  • Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage caused by long-term uncontrolled diabetes, and
  • Multiple sclerosis: An autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, leading to a variety of symptoms, including nerve pain.

Nerve pain treatment

When it comes to nerve pain, there are a number of different treatment options. Generally, the specific treatment depends on the underlying cause and the severity of symptoms. Because everyone experiences nerve pain differently, managing nerve pain can be challenging and often requires a combination of approaches.

Medications

One of the most common ways to treat nerve pain is with medication. While you can pick up some medicine over the counter to help with nerve pain, many people find that they’re not always effective in treating nerve pain.

Instead, many people visit their doctors for prescription medications to treat their nerve pain. Certain antidepressants and antiseizure medications are effective at relieving nerve pain. In some cases, doctors may even prescribe opioids for severe cases of nerve pain, but they’re often used as a last resort. 

Topical medications, like ointments, creams and patches, can be applied directly to the skin to help relieve nerve pain. 

Lifestyle modifications

If your nerve pain is caused by an underlying, like diabetes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding alcohol or tobacco can help reduce the impact of nerve pain. Generally speaking, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can help with pain management while also enhancing your general wellbeing. 

Alternative therapies

There are a number of alternative therapies that can be used to complement more traditional nerve pain treatments. From acupuncture and relaxation massages to biofeedback, these therapies may be able to offer some relief. Some people even like to practice relaxation techniques to help control their pain and aid with sleep. Mindfulness practices are also recommended, as well as pacing exercise and movement with practitioners who have an excellent understanding of chronic pain management like Lucy, Nikki, Richard and Jen in our team.

If you feel like your nerve pain is impacting your mental health, it could also be worth chatting with a psychologist. They might be able to suggest strategies and treatments to help you better cope with the emotional stress that often comes with dealing with nerve pain. 

Physiotherapy for nerve pain

Physiotherapy is another common treatment for managing nerve pain by addressing underlying issues, improving mobility and promoting overall physical well-being. Here are just some of the interventions that physios use to help relieve nerve pain:

  • Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the muscles surrounding affected nerves can provide support and stability, reducing strain on the nerves and promoting better function. Physiotherapists can design targeted exercise programs based on individual needs and the specific nerve affected.


  • Stretching and flexibility: Gentle stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and prevent the development of muscle imbalances that may contribute to nerve pain. Stretching can also alleviate tension in the muscles surrounding nerves.


  • Soft tissue manipulation: Massage therapy and dry needling can help reduce muscle tension and alleviate pain associated with nerve compression or irritation. Plus, by reducing muscle tension, these therapies can help restore regular muscle function and normal range of movement. 


  • Education and self-management: Physiotherapists educate patients about their condition, teaching them self-management techniques and exercises to perform at home. Empowering individuals to take an active role in their care can contribute to long-term improvement.


Are you looking for a physiotherapist to help relieve and manage nerve pain? Look no further than our expert team of neurological physiotherapists at Community NeuroRehab Service. Our physios offer a range of evidence-based strategies and techniques to help you regain movement and function. Explore our physio service today or get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.

Occupational Therapy: What Is It and What To Expect

Neurophysical conditions treatment

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, living with a disability or your body just isn’t able to function like it once did, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Working with an occupational therapist could help you to get the most out of life.

Keep reading to learn more about occupational therapy and what to expect when you work with an occupational therapist.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy, or OT for short, is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping individuals develop, recover or maintain the skills they need for daily living and working.

The main goal of occupational therapy is to help individuals participate in regular daily life to the fullest extent possible. This can look different for everyone. This might involve helping someone regain independence after an injury or illness, assisting children with developmental delays in participating in school activities or supporting older adults in maintaining their independence despite age-related challenges.

What does an occupational therapist do?

Occupational therapists (OTs) work with people of all ages who may have physical, mental or cognitive challenges that affect their ability to engage in meaningful activities or occupations. They use their skills and knowledge to help people to overcome or live better with physical issues related to disease, injury, ageing and disability.

OTs have undergone university training in body structure, function and the effects of different disorders to be able to practice occupational therapy. In Australia, OTs must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). As part of their registration, they have to meet strict qualification requirements, standards for ethical behaviour and continuing professional development.

OTs use a holistic approach, considering the person’s physical, emotional and environmental factors that may impact their ability to perform daily activities. They work with clients to set goals, develop personalised treatment plans and implement interventions that address specific challenges. These interventions can include exercises, adaptive equipment, environmental modifications and strategies to enhance cognitive or emotional well-being.

How occupational therapists can help you

When you work with an OT, they’re there to help you live your life to the fullest. They’ll spend time getting to know you, your circumstances and the various supports you have available to you. They’ll work with you to understand your goals and then implement evidence-based strategies to help you achieve them.

Occupational therapy with Community NeuroRehab Service

At Community NeuroRehab Service (CNRS), we offer occupational therapy across the Sunshine Coast, Gympie and Tin Can Bay. Our team of highly skilled occupational therapists works with clients of all ages to achieve greater independence and function. We offer OT at your home, workplace, school or in our fully-equipped Buderim clinic, whatever works best for you and your goals. With a focus on neuro occupational therapy, we’re able to provide the most progressive and effective treatment for clients suffering from conditions affecting the brain and nervous system.

When you work with an OT at CNRS, you’ll notice that your therapy program generally includes three key stages: evaluation, consultation and treatment.

During the evaluation stage, your OT will work with you to get to know you better. They’ll assess your abilities in the context of your work, school, home, family situation and general lifestyle. Your OT will ask a number of different questions about your current health, challenges and your future goals. They’ll look at how you’re functioning right now to get a good understanding of where you’re at. At CNRS, we understand the significant role your family or support people play in your rehabilitation journey, so we welcome them to join in on each session.

Once your OT has completed their evaluation, they’ll consult with you, close family members and other health professionals to develop a personalised treatment program. This could involve weekly, fortnightly or monthly treatment sessions to help you get the best possible outcome. Your OT will be there every step of the way as you work towards your goals.

After we’ve built your roadmap for success, it’s time to start treatment. Your treatment can take place anywhere that’s convenient for you, whether that be at work, in your home, at school or in our well-equipped clinic. The main aim is always to improve skills to help you live life to the fullest and participate in the activities that you enjoy, so picking the right setting can make all the difference. Whether you want to take up a hobby or simply get dressed more easily, your OT is there to help you make your goals happen.

But that’s not all. CNRS is home to a team of dedicated allied health professionals, so if your OT thinks you could benefit from additional services, they can point you in the right direction within the CNRS community. Contact our friendly team to learn more about how we can help you get your life back on track.

Understanding Stroke: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Older Family Members

As one of the leading causes of death in Australia, a stroke is a serious medical condition that can lead to a range of long-term health outcomes if not identified and treated promptly. While strokes can affect people of all ages, the likelihood of experiencing a stroke often increases with age.

Understanding the signs of stroke and seeking medical treatment quickly is essential for increasing the chances of the best possible outcome.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is the result of interrupted blood supply to the brain from either a blockage or a bleed. Essentially, when a stroke occurs, the brain doesn’t receive enough nutrients or oxygen, which can cause brain cells to become damaged or die within minutes.

There are two main types of stroke:
Ischemic (clot) stroke occurs when a blood clot stops the blood supply from reaching an area of your brain, and
Haemorrhagic (bleed) stroke is the result of a ruptured blood vessel.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) involves a blood clot that eventually resolves itself after a short period. Also known as a mini-stroke, experiencing a TIA can often indicate you could be at higher risk for a stroke later down the track.

What causes a stroke?

Strokes can result from several factors, but the main causes tend to come down to the type of stroke. The two main types of stroke each result from different causes.

An ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot, which stems from two main causes:
Thrombotic stroke: occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms within one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain.
Embolic stroke: results from an embolus, which is a blood clot or debris that forms elsewhere in the body and travels to the brain, blocking a blood vessel.

Several common risk factors can increase the chance of experiencing an ischemic stroke, including:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension),
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm)
  • Obesity
  • Age (risk increases with age)

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs as a result of a bleed and can also be broken down into two sub-types:

Intracerebral haemorrhage: occurs when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures and leaks blood into the surrounding brain tissue.
Subarachnoid haemorrhage: involves bleeding into the space between the brain and the skull’s surface.

If you experience any of the following conditions, you could be at higher risk of a haemorrhagic stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • Aneurysms (weak or thin spots on blood vessel walls)
  • Arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connections between arteries and veins)
  • Blood-thinning medications

Other factors that can contribute to stroke risk include a family history of strokes, a personal history of a prior stroke or TIA and certain medical conditions or lifestyle factors. With that said, some risk factors can be easily managed through simple lifestyle changes, like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and managing conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

Although the symptoms of a stroke can vary depending on the type of stroke and the part of the brain affected, using the F.A.S.T test could help you to identify the signs of stroke:
Face: Is their mouth drooped?
Arms: Can they lift both arms?
Speech: Is there speech slurred? Are they having trouble understanding you?
Time is critical: If you notice any of these signs, act fast and call triple zero immediately. Early treatment could help to prevent brain damage, long-term disability or even death.

Other common stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Loss of sensation, usually on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Sudden behavioural changes
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty walking
  • A severe headache

When it comes to stroke, time matters so it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re worried someone could be experiencing a stroke or stroke-like symptoms, call emergency services immediately to get them the help they need.

How can you treat stroke?

There are several different treatments for stroke, but the best course of action generally depends on the type of stroke you’ve suffered. Stroke treatment will often involve both immediate and long-term treatments. Medication or medical procedures are often used first to address the clot or bleeding soon after the patient has experienced a stroke.

Once the cause of the stroke has been addressed, the patient might need to begin therapy or undergo rehabilitation to regain skills and function. Common stroke therapy includes a combination of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and support from allied health assistants to help the client achieve the best quality of life. Some patients may also need to take medications to manage any underlying health issues or implement certain lifestyle changes to prevent a stroke from recurring.

At Community NeuroRehab Service, our team of experienced and caring allied health professionals offers neurological rehabilitation and stroke treatments for all ages. From physiotherapy and exercise physiology to occupational therapy, we’re able to provide a tailored multi-disciplinary approach to rehabilitation. Get in touch today to see how we could be a part of your rehabilitation journey.

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