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Article Type: Blog

Better Your Brain Health With Rehabilitation

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With physical, occupational and speech therapy available through our neurological rehabilitation program, AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab can help you get back to your best quality of life, no matter your age.

Jennifer Campbell is a speech language pathologist who has been practicing for 13 years in acute care, in-patient and out-patient rehab. She describes neurological rehab as “A type of rehabilitation that takes place after any type of incident involving the brain (such as a stroke) and can include physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy.” 

At AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab, “our goal is to either return a patient to their prior level of function or to maximize their independence so they can live safely as long as possible,” says Campbell.  People who come to our rehabilitation are those who have had something happen in their life that impacts their neurological function. This could include those who suffered from a stroke, cancer, ALS, neurodegenerative disease, brain injury, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, etc.

Improving Quality of Life

As people start to age, they have a decrease in reaction time and a harder time multi-tasking. The combination of physical therapy and speech therapy can often times help with that, and benefit overall health by: 

Reducing the Risk of a Fall 

Therapy can help teach seniors how to prevent a fall, and also help recover if one has occurred. Falls are a leading cause of accidents among older people, so it’s important to prevent whenever possible. At AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab, speech therapists work with physical therapists to reduce the fall risk, as often times they are due as much to physical capabilities as they are cognitive.

Helping to Maintain an Independent Lifestyle

Recovering from illness or injury through therapy means you’re one step closer to caring for yourself, by yourself. 

“A lot of times in the older population,” says Campbell, “you see falls starting to happen when people are having difficulty with distractions or lacking the ability to focus on the physical task at hand, so safety issues arise. We also see difficulty managing medications independently, mistakes on finances, etc. — so speech therapy really focuses on cognitive rehabilitation to help older patients do those important things well again, and safely,” she adds. 

Increasing Activity at Home

While therapists have certain exercises they do to help patients while they’re in rehab, it’s equally as important for someone recovering to remain active at home, both physically and mentally. To help increase brain health at home, Campbell recommends:

  • Doing physical exercise to help carry oxygen to the brain
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Performing exercises recommended for cognitive stimulation by your specialist (crossword puzzles, sudoku, etc.) 
  • Setting consistent sleep and wake times
  • Socializing often outside of the home

For cognitive stimulation, Campbell says, it’s important to vary your activity. “Doing a word search every day only works one small part of your brain. The main thing to understand is that for a brain to stay healthy, you need to use the whole brain, targeting different brain function.” 

She explains that the brain has what’s called a “self-pruning effect,” meaning, it can recognize what parts of the brain aren’t being used regularly and start to prune, or eliminate, those areas. So practicing activities that work the whole mind will help improve and maintain overall brain health. 

When to Visit Neurological Rehab

A primary care physician or specialist can provide you with a referral to begin therapy. Together, you and your therapist(s) will work to develop a plan to best help with rehabilitation — whether that involves physical therapy, speech therapy or a combination. To learn more about AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab, click here

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