Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke Rehabilitation Program 101: Everything You Need to Know on How to Recover Post-Stroke

Did you know: there are over 7 million stroke survivors across the U.S., and almost a third of them haven’t gone to a stroke rehabilitation program?

According to the American Stroke Association, very few people are familiar with the fundamental impact of rehab therapy for this kind of health problem.

Stroke rehab is a key component of your recovery process. If you want to learn more about it, then you’ve come to the right place. This is a detailed guideline of what a stroke rehabilitation program has to offer and how it can help boost your quality of life.

Table of Contents

Stroke Rehabilitation Program

Based on statistics, 10% of people who previously had a stroke recover almost completely. Whereas 25% recover with mild impairments. About 40% are in need of special care since they develop severe or moderate impairments. And 10% get admitted to a long-term nursing facility.

But, the effects of treatment can be different for everyone and often depend on the severity of stroke. Stroke rehab is here to help patients relearn the skills they lost due to stroke. It can show them how to regain their independence and manage their brain damage.

Experts estimate that patients who go to a stroke rehabilitation program perform better than the majority of those who don’t receive any rehab after having a stroke.

Rehab gives patients the opportunity to protect themselves from developing new medical issues like urinary tract infections, pneumonia, blood clots, or fall injuries. The crucial element of any neuro-rehabilitation program is to give patients a focused, centered, and repetitive treatment, capable of restoring productivity and effectiveness.

What Affects the Outcome of a Successful Stroke Rehab?

Many elements play a key role in how the treatment will turn out, explains the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The success rate will depend on the:

  • Severity of brain damage
  • Age (younger adults recover faster than the elderly)
  • Impact of other medical problems
  • Alertness (stroke can affect the patient’s ability to stay focused and follow instructions)
  • Cooperation and support (having a supportive social network of friends and family can drastically boost the rehabilitation process)
  • Safety (if a person has poor coordination and balance, but spends time in an unsafe environment, it can hinder their treatment process)
  • Rehab timing (people who wait too long to go to rehab may need longer and more intensive treatment to notice the results)
  • Speech and language issues
  • Loss of mobility
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Vision issues
  • A decline in self-care abilities and active lifestyle
  • Issues related to sexual ability
  • Bowel and bladder control issues
  • Cognitive issues – a decline in problem-solving skills

What Kind of Disability Can Stroke Cause?

The brain is a complex organ. The blood vessels in our bodies are crucial in carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Every area of our brain is linked to a specific ability or function. When a stroke happens, the neurons in the brain get deprived of nutrients.

Therefore, the nerve cells suffer damage. This starvation can lead to cell death and hinder bodily functions. The level and type of disability after a stroke depends on what area of the brain got damaged. And how severe that damage is.

Overall, stroke can lead to five different disability types. Such as:

  1. Sensory disturbance is often accompanied by pain, numbness, weak or paralyzed limb, and loss of bowel or bladder control.
  2. Aphasia (trouble understanding or using language). Language impairments are a common problem among stroke survivors. Those affected can find it difficult to write, speak, or understand words.
  3. Memory and thinking impairment such as neglect, apraxia (trouble following instructions), and anosognosia (inability of perceiving the reality of physical impairments from a stroke).
  4. Paralysis or poor motor control is caused by severe damage to the connections and cells in the brain associated with sensation and movement.
  5. Emotional disturbance especially sadness, anxiety, fear, grief, frustration over mental and physical losses.

When Should You Start The Stroke Rehabilitation Program?

Rehab often starts in the acute-care hospital the moment your health state is stabilized. That means about 48 hours after having a stroke. The first treatment stage focuses on teaching patients how to regain their independence and overcome weakness or paralysis.

A therapist will help restore your mobility and strength with practical motion exercises. But, it is not uncommon for a stroke survivor to need basic help with sitting or moving from a chair onto a bed. Stroke can impair the limbs and cause poor balance. With medical assistance, you can reduce the risk of injury when carrying out basic tasks.

Once you’ve started using the toilet and bathtub on your own, you’ve passed the first stage of returning your independence.

How Does Stroke Rehab Look Like?

Doctors can suggest different approaches to stroke rehabilitation based on the patient’s needs. They will choose the right kind of treatment that’s best designed for the survivor’s health state. They can include physical, cognitive and emotional, technology-assisted, and experimental therapies. Here is a quick overview of what some of these options might include.

Physical activities

  • Range-of-motion therapy – if the patient has spasticity (muscle tension) or poor range of motion, doctors can suggest activities to get their body back on track.
  • Motor-skill exercise – meant to boost coordination and muscle strength, these physical activities are designed to restore independent living. In most cases, patients need to work on their swallowing and neck muscles.
  • Constraint-induced therapy – this specialized approach helps stroke survivors restore the use of a limb. It focuses on restoring functional ability after a brain injury.
  • Mobility training – patients get accustomed to using an ankle brace, wheelchair, canes, or a walker for additional support.

Cognitive and emotional activities

  • Medicine – if the patient is agitated, anxious, or depressed, their healthcare provider can suggest antidepressant medication. This is to help survivors restore their emotional balance so that they will have an easier time recovering from the stroke.
  • Emotional treatment and evaluation – counseling is crucial when dealing with health complications after a stroke. Experts can help people control their well-being and mental stability.
  • Communication disorder therapy – options like speech therapy are a great way for patients to restore their lost abilities. This is particularly important for those who recently had a stroke.
  • Cognitive disorder therapy – your cognitive abilities might decline after a stroke. This can make it very difficult to succeed at work. Especially if you now have poor social, problem-solving, memory, and processing skills. That’s where this kind of therapy can come in handy.

Technology-assisted activities

  • VR therapy – virtual reality is used in many ways. Some doctors use simulation virtual reality therapy to help patients manage their health complications.
  • Wireless tech – this involves the use of an activity monitor capable of boosting after-stroke activity.
  • Robotic tech – the use of robotic devices can enable valuable assistance when doing repetitive motions and restoring limb function and strength.
  • Electric stimulation – specifically tailored electrical stimulations can cause the weak muscles to contract. This could be a practical solution in re-educating the affected muscles.

Experimental therapies

  • Alternative treatment – for many patients, the use of alternative medicine has proven useful in helping the body recover after a stroke. Most Traditional Medicine practitioners suggest oxygen, acupuncture, and herbal therapy. However, these approaches don’t have enough research to back up their efficiency and success. That’s why they may not be able to replace other therapies.
  • Stem cell therapy – although experimental, a biological therapy might boost the recovery process. But this is something experts use only in a clinical trial.
  • Brain stimulation – often left as a last resort, this non-invasive procedure has shown some success in different studies. Scientists believe it can help restore motor skills. But, more research is necessary to evaluate its full impact.

What Are the Best Places for Stroke Rehab?

Before getting discharged from the hospital, the patient and their family members should coordinate with hospital social workers to find an adequate living arrangement. Survivors with mild damage can return home, but others will need further medical assistance and a more intensive rehabilitation program. These options include:

  • Outpatient unit – typically a bigger hospital complex, this treatment facility provides access to doctors and therapists capable of providing stroke rehabilitation. Patients are expected to attend sessions around 3 days a week and a couple of hours in a facility to get coordinated treatment. When the sessions are over, patients can return home.
  • Inpatient unit – with an inpatient unit, stroke survivors have to stay in the facility from 2 to 3 weeks or more. They will receive intensive rehabilitation programs and coordinated treatment. They have access to tailored medical services and full-time medical supervision, therefore getting a much better chance at managing their health state. But, they can’t return home until they obtain the desired results.
  • Proper nursing facilities – these establishments put a lot of emphasis on rehab, while traditional nursing homes focus on residential care. That’s why stroke survivors get fewer hours of therapy and doctor visits compared to an inpatient unit.
  • Home-based treatment – if a stroke survivor doesn’t need rigorous monitoring or care, they can have the flexibility to manage their health state in their own living environment. The doctor will suggest a regimen and therapy options to keep the condition under control. But, these patients might not have access to specialized equipment, like the one they can get at an outpatient or inpatient unit.

How Long Will Stroke Rehab Take?

It is difficult to know the exact duration of your rehabilitation. Some people recover very quickly. It can take them 2 to 3 weeks in an inpatient facility. Others will need long-term rehab that can last months or years. Only your doctor can suggest the ideal treatment duration.

The reason people stay so long in rehab is that they are prone to a recurrent stroke. In fact, around 30% of stroke survivors will have another stroke. About 25% to 33% of all strokes are recurrent. As a result, rehab becomes a key management strategy.


Recovering from a stroke can be a long and daunting process. The bigger the damage, the longer it will take. But to allow the body to fully recover, most stroke survivors need expert help. With a stroke rehabilitation program they can overcome their impairment and increase the odds of regaining independent living. Despite it being a lengthy process, with enough dedication, commitment, and hard work, survivors can boost their quality of life.

What does the rehabilitation process after stroke include?

This recovery process requires specialized clinical rehabilitation teams including consultant physicians, GPs, PMR consultants, skilled nursing, and social workers in addition to attention, patience, and hard work. According to the National Stroke Association, up to 10% of the stroke survivors make an almost-complete recovery, with 25% of the survivors living with only mild consequences. Another 10% require further care in nursing homes. So, what does the rehabilitation process for the stroke survivors include?

  • Medications
Different medications are used to treat the existing stroke and the damage that it has led to, as well as prevent a second stroke from occurring in the future. The list of commonly used medications includes anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, statins, blood pressure drugs, multivitamins, etc. according to the individual needs of the patient.
  • Physical therapy
Physical therapists focus on helping the patient to overcome any issues linked to coordination, movement, balance, and strength. Different methods of physical therapy will be used from day one after stroke, to help gain back as much as control over the movements that have been affected by the stroke itself. It all starts with basic passive movements that are done by the physical therapist until the patient is capable of completing active movements with or without help. The patient is taught how to progress from sitting up to moving to a wheelchair, bearing their weight, and moving with or without help, all of that depending on the patient’s physical and mental abilities.
  • Occupational therapy

Because many patients face a decline in their self-care abilities, they require an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist works with stroke survivors to help them relearn how to complete everyday activities such as cooking, eating, dressing, bathing, and even reading and writing. Relearning these skills will benefit the patient’s mental health greatly since many of them are experiencing depression and anxiety due to being dependent on other people’s help to complete these everyday activities.

  • Speech therapy
A speech therapist is here to assist with any speech and language issues. They are here to help the patient relearn how to speak, and when that is impossible, teach them new ways of communication so that they would be able to continue living a normal life as much as possible. The efficiency of speech therapy depends on the brain area where the stroke has occurred, although overall, it does lead to a noticeable improvement.
  • Cognitive therapy
Cognitive dysfunctions after stroke are common for many patients. Any issues related to problem-solving, memory, thinking, learning, etc. and even emotional disturbances and issues linked to emotional control can be treated with the help of cognitive therapy. With the right cognitive exercises, you can expect to see improvements in your thinking, memory, and even social skills.
  • Support from family members and friends
Seeing self-going through the difficult consequences that we have mentioned can have a toll on one’s self-esteem and mental health in general. This is where family members and friends play a crucial role in the recovery process.

Prognosis after stroke recovery

The question that draws the most attention often is – “When is my loved one going to get better?”. It is only natural to wonder when you will see yourself or your loved one get better and how much will that person recover.

But these are the two most difficult questions to answer. The answers, again, depending on the factors that we mentioned before. The truth is that every patient is different, and so, every case is different as well, which is why predicting the degree and the pace of the recovery process itself is not an easy task for any healthcare professional to do.

For most patients, the biggest progress is seen in the first six months within the rehabilitation process. Progress can be seen up to two years after the stroke since most experts agree on the brain being able to continue healing itself during these two years. For other patients, muscle weakness and poor memory are not issues that they manage to improve. However, they too can relearn new skills that would help them to improve their active lifestyles.


Stroke is a serious health issue that causes multiple complications and consequences, and may even lead to death. It is up to the rehabilitation team to help the patient combat any issues and decreased abilities that he/she faces due to the stroke itself. Rehabilitation is an essential part of the treatment process if any real effort in the patient’s condition is to be seen.

If you or a loved one is dealing with the consequences of stroke, we highly encourage you to ask for help. Use Google engine to search for “Inpatient stroke rehabilitation centers near me in Abu Dhabi or al ain” and you will find Cambridge is always near to you. Do not allow the consequences of the stroke to take over your life and join the thousands of stroke survivors that are living a healthy life despite their history of stroke.


CMRC Hospital is the specialized provider for Long-term Care and rehabilitation services in the United Arab Emirates. With 2 main facilities in Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, which are designed in a rehabilitation and long-term care hospital with a capacity of 90 beds each.

CMRC provides an interdisciplinary clinical approach for Stroke Rehabilitation which is customized for adults and adolescents. The best rehabilitation services are not only our goal but our ultimate objective is to customize the care plan for each patient and make sure that the patient’s family and their members are integrated into the treatment plan.

Either you joined Abu Dhabi hospital or Al Ain hospital for any kind of our rehabilitation services or even for long-term care you will feel as if you are at #Your Second Home.