Neurological rehabilitation assists patients who have suffered brain or spinal cord injury, or who have other problems of the central nervous system, to develop or regain their strength and life skills. Such rehabilitation is designed to foster independence and emotional confidence as it simultaneously speeds the healing process. In addition, it helps family members and other caregivers return to a more normal lifestyle.
Candidates for Neurological Rehabilitation
Many patients can be helped by neurological rehabilitation, including those who have suffered traumatic injury and those who suffer from neuromuscular disease. Patients who suffer with any of the following conditions may benefit from neurological rehabilitation:
- Aftereffects of a stroke
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Cerebral palsy
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson's disease
Patients with generalized weakness of the spine and those who suffer with balance disorders may also benefit from neurological rehabilitation.
Types of Neurological Rehabilitation
Patients who engage in a program of neurological rehabilitation are typically involved in several types of therapy, including physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological counseling. Occupational therapy involves learning, or relearning, to perform everyday tasks, such as eating, dressing, bathing, reaching, and opening doors or cabinets.
For children who have some kind of neurological impairment, these therapies can accelerate physical and mental development. For patients of all ages, they can help improve communication skills, attention span, memory, and social skills. These improvements are accomplished through combined physical and mental exercises, mediation and relaxation techniques, and individual or group counseling. Patients undergoing neurological rehabilitation typically work with many different professionals, including:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech therapists
- Orthopedic surgeons
These medical professionals work as a team to assist in the patient's development, maintenance, and recovery of abilities.
Neurological Rehabilitation Techniques
Some of the means used to retrain patients with neurological injuries or diseases involve training in the use of assistive equipment, such as canes, splints, braces, or wheelchairs. Other methods include:
- Therapeutic exercises
- Exercises to improve balance
- Gait Training
- Re-education in muscle movement
- Adaptive recreation and sports
- Compensatory techniques and strategies
- Specialized rehabilitation services, such as driving assessments
- Speech, language and swallowing therapies
Depending on the condition being treated, neurological rehabilitation may take place for a limited period of recovery time of may be ongoing.