“Where am I? How did I get here?” is what many stroke patients say after recovering from an acute or severe stroke. A stroke is also known as a cerebrovascular accident, a life-threatening event where the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen. A physical therapist’s duty is to provide assistance and education that will help patients rehabilitate and return to a normal routine. As of today, there is a new treatment called treadmill training with partial body weight
support that facilitates recovery of a patient’s ability to walk sooner after a surgery. Is the expense for treadmill training with partial body weight support which includes expensive equipment and constant physical therapy
supervision worth it if it decrease the amount of time it takes a person to get better? Is it ultimately more efficient than traditional physical therapy? My argument will state that treadmill training with partial body weight support is worth the expense and provides better techniques than traditional physical therapy.
After a stroke, patients are usually referred to physical therapy to begin the recovery process. There are many types of physiotherapy treatments for different types of strokes and injuries. The two kinds of strokes are ischemic stroke which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by blood clots. The blood clots are caused when the arteries harden and a cluster forms which then limits blood and oxygen supply to the brain. The second kind of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when there is bleeding into or around the brain. If one of the two strokes were ever to occur, getting oxygen and blood to your brain immediately is very important because permanent tissue damage and death could even occur. Physical therapists help not only stroke patients
but a large variety of people who have physical limitations. A new treatment approach that is being studied involves “treadmill training” with partial body weight support. In this approach a physical therapist patterns the movement of the involved or weak leg while the patient is supported in a sling type apparel while walking on a treadmill. This is a new technique that is showing good results. However, there are no long term studies as of yet. I believe that treadmill training is very beneficial to stroke patients because it helps them regain speed and strength in a short amount of time. Treadmill training is very costly, but increases your chances in walking by about three to four weeks faster than regular physical therapy. Treadmill treatment with partial body weight and physical therapy is definitely more successful than normal physical therapy because as my journals show, the rotation of the treadmill’s belt generates motion automatically into the patients legs, forcing them to have natural movement. This natural movement is the cause of what makes a person rehabilitate faster. Traditional techniques including aquatic physical therapy could not compare to the benefits of treadmill training because they take more time and effort before a patient shows similar improvements. Although normal and aquatic-therapy are less expensive, they require more patience and some people get frustrated because they feel that they are not even getting better. The only downfall to treadmill training is that the cost of this treatment is very expensive and requires two highly trained physical therapists for each patient.
One treadmill training experiment utilizing partial body weight and physiotherapy consisted of twenty-eight male and female stroke patients with an average age of 54.7 years. All patients that were chosen were only picked if they were between eight and nine months after the recovery. The patients were divided into two groups, A or B, where they would stay for the next nine weeks to receive physical therapy. Group A would receive an intense 3-week-daily physiotherapy session which consisted of thirty minutes of treadmill training five times a week plus forty minutes of normal physical therapy. On the other hand, group B would receive only fifteen minute training sessions and thirty minutes of physical therapy. Each time a patient would go to treadmill treatment they’d be placed in a harness that hovered them above the treadmill supporting sixty percent of their weight. One physiotherapist would stand by the patients feet making sure that their heels would hit the ground first. At the same time, the second physiotherapist would stand behind the patient making sure that his or her body weight would shift to each leg when stepping on it. After the rehabilitation, the patients reported increased mental and physical confidence that helped them push through to walk on their own. After the nine weeks, group A prevailed with a significantly better outcome for the patient, proving that the treatment of body weight support improves walking speed tremendously. This experiment, along with many others, shows that the treatment of treadmill training with partial body weight is worth the financial expense.
In conclusion, while the expense of treadmill training with partial body weight support and physiotherapy is costly at this time, I would definitely recommend this treatment as it speeds patients recoveries. As research convenes and more patients receive this technique, the cost will hopefully decrease and insurance will cover the cost because of the improved outcome.