What does regression indicate?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 20, 2016
Monica goh asked...

My father is 81 years old and had a stroke one year ago. It left him with a weakness on the right side of his body. His leg has been weak ever since and although he worked hard at his exercises and physio therapies, he improved little and he walked with difficulty and very slowly. However he regained quite a bit of function in his right hand and was even able to write almost the way he did before his stroke. However, recently he's been experiencing numbness in his right arm. He has frozen shoulders and he isn't able to lift his arm as high up as before. He found today that his writing is regressing as well. What does this regression indicate? Does it point to another stroke about to happen? What can I do to help? Does massage help?

Expert Answers

For 20 years, physical therapist Connie Lambert has worked with individuals and families with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. As founder and CEO of Our Generations, LLC, she provides specialized dementia and behavioral management training for corporations, facilities, and groups.

It can be very frustrating to work hard exercising after a stroke only to experience little improvement. Unfortunately, a stroke causes damage to the neurologic system that controls the muscles but not to the muscles themselves. Without an intact neurologic system for the muscle group, no amount of exercise will bring about improvement. Therefore, physical therapy should be geared to stimulate the neurologic system to develop a new route around the damaged area. The improvement in his right hand is an example of doing so successfully. Sometimes the damage is too great, though. Regarding his current regression, I advise you to return to his physician for testing immediately as such regression can represent pressure from bleeding or loss of adequate oxygen in the brain. I wish you and your father the very best.