Custom Approach Fits Stroke Rehab

Topeka (WIBW) - Keith Van Sickle is known to many people for his radio and TV comments on movies , but these days, the 44-year old is his own worst critic as he battles back from a stroke.

At Kansas Rehab Hospital, Keith is going through daily therapy. On this day, he's testing how he can grip and move objects with his left hand versus his right, which lost mobility due to the stroke.

Dr. Joseph Sankoorikal of Kansas Rehab says a family-oriented, team approach is key to stroke recovery. He says a patient's stroke recovery team includes everyone from doctors and physical therapists, to social workers and nutritionists. That's because a stroke's damage to the brain can be wide-ranging.

Dr. Sakoorikal says the major affect is weakness and loss of mobility, generally on one side of the body. In addition, there can be cognitive affects, such as speech, language and judgment.

Exact symptoms and severity will vary, which is why there's no standard recovery program.

"It has to be customized," Dr. Sakoorikal said. "Every stroke patient is different."

Which means every patient will use different tools. Those could be basic low-tech movement exercises using common objects, or the more high-tech equipment, like machines to assist walking, computer programs to improve balance and coordination, or even electrical stimulation.

The main goal, Dr. Sakoorikal says, is to get people back to their maximum potential, whether that's back to work or just to enjoy life the best they can.

The more quickly you get treatment for a stroke, the less chance of severe damage. Remember "F.A.S.T." - if your face droops, arms are numb or weak, or speech becomes slurred, it's time to call 9-1-1.


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