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How Electrical Stimulation Helps Senior Stroke Survivors

A stroke typically affects one side of the body, often causing muscles to shrink and weaken. It’s important for seniors to use their muscles as much as possible during recovery so they will remain strong, and many stroke survivors use electrical stimulation therapy to increase this strength. The Westfield senior care experts at Home Care Assistance want to share some crucial information about electrical stimulation and how it can facilitate stroke recovery.

The Basics of Electrical Stimulation Therapy

Electrical stimulation therapy uses mild electrical currents to stimulate nerves in the muscles paralyzed by a stroke. The currents cause the affected muscles to contract, permitting movement. Electrical stimulation can be used on the legs, arms, trunk, and buttocks, and it works by rewiring the brain and forming new neural pathways so electrical impulses can travel from the brain to the affected muscles. The therapy can also relax spastic muscles to help alleviate pain, and it is most effective when used in conjunction with physical therapy and exercise.

Types of Electrical Stimulation

The most common form of electrical stimulation therapy involves placing electrodes on the external surface of the skin over the affected nerves. A therapist helps a senior stroke survivor identify the optimal placement and stimulation settings for the electrodes based on the senior’s mobility deficits. The device may cause a mild “pins and needles” sensation, but most users get accustomed to this rather quickly. Another type of electrical stimulation therapy involves a surgical procedure to place the electrodes directly on the nerves, which requires a device to be implanted just under the skin.

Electrical Stimulation Makes Walking Easier

Electrical stimulation therapy can be particularly useful in increasing the ability to walk following a stroke, and it helps restore a more natural walking pattern and increase walking speed and endurance. Seniors using the therapy often have fewer incidences of drop foot, which occurs when weak or spastic calf muscles are unable to lift the foot and toes when walking, leading to an increased risk of falls and serious injury. Drop foot can also have an adverse impact on quality of life since the senior may lose confidence in the ability to navigate around the house or outdoors safely.

Learn more about helping your senior loved one recover from a stroke by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of post-stroke care Westfield seniors can rely on, and our caregivers are trained to assist with mobility and help with a wide array of other tasks that can become more challenging following a stroke. For more information on our stroke care and our other in-home care services, call one of our experienced Care Managers today at 908.450.9400.