Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in India. According to a paper in the National Library of Medicine, the burden of stroke is increasing in India. They are the fourth leading cause of death and the fifth leading cause of disability. Previous research suggested that the incidence of stroke in India ranges between 105 and 152/100,000 people per year.
The Week in conversation Dr Sachin Sethi, Principal Lead- Physiotherapy at Artemis Hospital, Gurugram
What exactly is a stroke?
Stroke causes damage to brain cells. They occur when there is a disruption in the brain’s blood supply, leading to potentially devastating consequences, including physical and cognitive impairments. It can strike suddenly and have severe consequences.
Additionally, individuals with risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and a family history of strokes are at an elevated risk. While strokes can impact both men and women, there is a slight gender differential, with men being somewhat more susceptible.
What is India’s stroke burden?
In India, the burden of stroke is substantial. With the prevalence of risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and lifestyle-related factors such as smoking and poor diet, the country witnesses approximately 1.5 million stroke cases annually.
What are alternative therapies for stroke recovery?
Physiotherapy rehabilitation is the prime management post-medical treatment. However, there are other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, art therapy, and herbal remedies. These therapies are often used alongside conventional medical treatments to aid in physical rehabilitation and enhance overall well-being.
How do alternative therapies benefit stroke survivors and are they safe?
Alternative therapies can benefit stroke survivors by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving physical and mental health. They are generally safe when used under the guidance of qualified practitioners, but it’s essential to discuss them with healthcare providers to ensure compatibility with medical treatments and individual needs.
However, any of the alternative therapies cannot play a major role in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Physiotherapy remains one of the central components that focuses not only on the physical functions of stroke survivors but also plays a major role in enhancing independent living.
Are some alternative therapies more effective for specific stroke conditions?
The effectiveness of alternative therapies can vary depending on the type and severity of the stroke. For eg. Yoga and meditation may help with post-stroke pain and benefit emotional well-being, whereas tai chi helps in better coordination. Tailoring therapies to specific conditions is essential for better results.
What is the role of a healthcare provider in guiding stroke patients on alternative therapies?
Healthcare providers play a crucial role in guiding stroke patients regarding alternative therapies. They can help patients make informed decisions and ensure therapies do not interfere with medical treatment and physical rehabilitation.
What are the risks and considerations when using alternative therapies in stroke recovery?
Talking specifically about physiotherapy under well trained physiotherapist has minimal or no risks, but risks associated with alternative therapies include potential interactions with medications, inadequate scientific evidence of their effectiveness, and financial costs. Stroke survivors and healthcare providers should weigh these risks against potential benefits, as alternative therapies shouldn’t overtake the prime treatment of the patients
Are certain alternative therapies better suited for different types of strokes or stages of recovery?
Certain alternative therapies may be better suited for different types of strokes or stages of recovery. Yoga and tai chi might be beneficial in the rehabilitation phase, while mindfulness practices can support long-term emotional recovery. However, physiotherapy remains indispensable in reducing the morbidity and mortality of stroke patients. Early mobilization and functional training provided by physiotherapists are considered the most important aspects of acute treatment in a stroke patient.
How do alternative therapies address emotional challenges in stroke survivors, like anxiety and depression?
Alternative therapies address emotional challenges in stroke survivors by providing relaxation and coping mechanisms. Mindfulness and meditation can help manage anxiety and depression, while art therapy offers a creative outlet for expression and emotional healing.
How can healthcare providers respect patient preferences in using alternative therapies?
Healthcare providers must engage in open communication, be empathetic, and integrate alternative therapies into the overall care plan if deemed safe and effective. This collaborative approach empowers patients to make informed choices while ensuring their well-being remains a top priority.