A person is having a stroke when there is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Function is rapidly lost requiring emergency medical care, but what many patients do not realize is that intensive rehabilitation starts in the acute care setting within 24-48 hours of having a stroke. According to statistics from the National Stroke Association, 10% of those who suffer from a stoke recover almost completely, 25% with minor impairments and 40% suffer from moderate to severe impairments that require special care.
Podiatrists typically start seeing stroke patients 2+ months post-stroke. This is known as the rehabilitation phase for encouraging better lower limb function, typically within a year of the stroke. Some patients only seek podiatric care more than a year post-stroke, once they have regained or relearned most of their functional movement through rehabilitation. However, this delay may lead to additional time and therapy to stimulate and rehabilitate the muscles to a greater extent.
Podiatry can improve post stroke function using devices, footwear modifications, or in clinic interventions. It is difficult to achieve significant improvement after a period of 12 months and more post-stroke, and it is likely that podiatric devices inside and outside of the footwear will be needed to improve walking. Nerve stimulation therapies can also help patients who are experiencing weakness, pain or altered sensations in the lower limbs post stroke.
Post-stroke patients frequently present to our clinic with the following problems following stroke:
- Paralysis (Hemiplegia)
- Weakness (Hemiparesis)
- Inability to coordinate movement (ataxia)
- Reduced sensation (inability to feel touch, pain, temperature or position)
- Paraesthesia (Pain numbness, tingling or prickling sensations)
- Neuropathic pain (chronic pain syndromes)
- Mechanical pain syndromes due to weakness and immobility of joints, tendons and muscles
Our clinical facilities are well equipped to help patients once their acute care is completed. Podiatry helps to reduce pain, encourage better foot function, and encourage muscle stimulation via in-clinic solutions that target the nerve. The aim of podiatry care is to improve coordination and balance from the lower limbs, which in turn this helps to improve quality of life and maintain a level of activity for post-stroke patients. If the patient is suffering pain or altered sensations, podiatric care has shown excellent results in reducing pain and improving sensation in the lower limbs.