Can my sister still benefit from therapy after a stroke?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My sister suffered a severe stroke to the left side of her body six months ago, she hasn't made any significant improvements over the last couple of months. She has very high tone so is very stiff, she is fully dependent on and is fed through a peg in her stomach. Recently she has started talking and making sense and even pointing out where she has pain.

The doctors have pretty much written her off with the last four months or so and she doesn't get speech and language therapy anymore, so I'm looking for suggestions as to what we could or should do?

She is only a young woman at 55 years and is still in the hospital.

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

Very sorry to hear about your situation.

On occasion, particularly in patients under 65 years of age who are not on Medicare, her primary physician can order additional physical, occupational, and speech therapy that will be covered by insurance if they have reason to believe she is benefiting from these therapies. It sounds like she is continuing to improve, so I think it is worthwhile to check with her Internal Medicine doctor about getting such a referral.

Another option is to ask to be referred to a Physiatrist (Physical Medicine Doctor). They may be able to give you some further guidance on therapists who can work with her for recovery. And, they are often very good at treating spasticity issues. For example, they can utilize Botox injections and range of motion exercises to help with the painful spasms that occur on the effected limbs.

If all else fails, I would pay out of pocket for a few sessions with a therapist to give you a work-out plan that can be done at home. And, there is no question that the spasticity treatment should be covered by insurance.

I hope this helps. Good luck!