Does Massage for Stroke Patients Help Recovery?
Feb 23, 2023
Having a stroke is a major health event that can lead to temporary or permanent changes in physical, emotional, and mental function. There are a number of treatment options your doctor may recommend after a stroke to minimize or help with its aftereffects. The recovery periods for a stroke may range from months to years. While some patients may never fully recover, learning how to help with stroke recovery is essential to minimize the long-term effects and improve quality of life.
Today, we’re looking at what a stroke is, its potential after-effects, and how to use massage for stroke patients in conjunction with other types of recovery treatments. As always, consult your doctor before beginning any new form of treatment for guidance. You may also talk to your doctor about your risk of having a stroke and learn how to reduce the chances of one occurring.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is a disease that impacts the arteries that flow to and from, and reside within, your brain. It occurs when a blood vessel carrying essential oxygen and nutrients to the brain is impeded by a clot or rupture (also called bursts). These two types of strokes are called ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
While stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and number one leading cause of disability in the United States each year, the American Stroke Association also reports that nearly 80% of strokes are preventable. Talk to your doctor about elevated risks and possible lifestyle changes that will reduce your chances of having a stroke.
After Effects of a Stroke
The full impact of having a stroke depends on several factors including where the obstruction took place and how much of your brain tissue was affected during the stroke. Some stroke patients may recover fully whereas others may continue to live with aftereffects of a stroke permanently. While there are no guaranteed recovery methods, treatments like massage for stroke patients may help reduce or eliminate these ailments.
Some common stroke after-effects include:
- Degrees of paralysis on one side of the body
- Speech problems or difficulties with language
- Changes in behaviors, especially becoming slower or more cautious
- Vision impairment
- Memory loss or reduction in cognitive function
Recovery for stroke patients varies from person to person. Be sure to consult your doctor to determine which treatment options will work best for you.
Potential Benefits of Massage for Stroke Patients
Does massage help stroke recovery? It may! In fact, a massage for stroke patients is a popular method of partner treatment in conjunction with other healthcare and therapies. Far from an exercise in vanity, massage therapy has long been accepted as having potential mental and physical health benefits for people of any age and lifestyle.
Getting a massage after stroke occurrences may help with:
- Improving function in paralyzed or weakened sides
- Alleviating physical pain
- Managing stress and anxiety
- Reducing spasticity
- Increasing range of motion for better stability
Improving Function/Movement With Massage After Stroke
As one of the most common after effects of a stroke, it’s vital to find ways to improve the function or movement of paralyzed or weakened sides in patients. The reduced function of one side of the body makes it more challenging for the body to move fluid through the body, which could result in swelling, inflammation, or other complications. Incorporating massage for stroke recovery may help reduce or alleviate these effects as it stimulates better blood flow and enhances lymphatic drainage.
Techniques like the long strokes of Swedish massage or the benefits of lymphatic drainage self massage could go a long way to improving function on the weakened side or, at least, preventing painful swelling.
Alleviating Physical Pain
Unfortunately, one of the after effects of a stroke can be increased physical pain. This pain could stem from muscle tension, swelling from poor blood circulation, decreased mobility, or any number of sources. Using massage for stroke patients may help alleviate physical pain and improve overall quality of life with an increase in natural pain-relieving hormones like endorphins plus enhanced bodily healing.
Some patients may also experience ailments like increased spasticity or subluxation (a condition from misaligned vertebrae) that cause pain or discomfort that a massage after stroke could assist with, as well. Therapeutic massage techniques that combine long strokes with muscle manipulation help loosen up tight muscles and relax the body. It’s a key element of using massage for stroke recovery.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
The aftermath of a stroke can leave patients with increased feelings of stress and anxiety. After all, it’s a major health experience that may result in long-term effects on your body. Massage for stroke patients has been widely considered an effective method for how to lower cortisol levels naturally (your stress hormone) and increase mood-elevating hormone production for higher levels of endorphins and serotonin.
The benefits of massage after stroke also pair with pain relief. There’s a self-feeding negative cycle between mental stress and physical pain that massage may help resolve. Reduced stress may result in less muscle tension and lower pain. Pain, conversely, causes us to experience heightened levels of stress, so a lower pain level may also boost mental health.
While there is more research needed to medically confirm the benefits of massage for stroke patients helping to reduce spasticity, there are experts who say there is evidence for it. Spasticity is a neurological effect that often occurs in stroke patients that results in increased muscle stiffness. Not only can it result in soreness or pain, but it could also contribute to speech issues and reduced mobility.
Massage for stroke recovery may help reduce spasticity while maintaining joint health and increasing overall mobility. Furthermore, certain types of massage techniques may be beneficial for minimizing or preventing scar tissue from forming and reducing mobility permanently.
Increasing Range of Motion for Better Stability
Last, but not least, on our list of the benefits of massage for stroke patients is how it may increase range of motion for better stability. The term “range of motion” is the measure of how far you’re able to move or stretch a part of your body. This may be a joint or a muscle, and is profoundly important for stroke patients who may be experiencing mobility issues.
Getting a massage after stroke occurrences relaxes muscles and helps loosen stiff joints. This increased range of motion is vital for added stability, reducing the risk of potential falls or other injuries.
Using a Massage Chair for Stroke Recovery
There’s no doubt that massage for stroke patients may be beneficial for recovery when paired with other healthcare treatments and therapies, but ongoing appointments can be difficult to fit into a schedule and results in another ongoing expense. Instead, many people have turned to the benefits of owning a massage chair, instead, such as:
- Comfort and privacy of a massage chair at home
- Cost of a massage chair vs massage therapy appointments
- Different massage techniques available
- Massage chair features, including body scanning and biofeedback
Comfort and Privacy of a Massage Chair at Home
One of the greatest benefits of owning a massage chair for stroke recovery is that you can use it from the comfort and privacy of your home. This is especially helpful for those who may be living with mobility issues or other after effects of a stroke. Available whenever you need it, a massage chair delivers a therapeutic massage for stroke recovery at the touch of a button.
Cost of a Massage Chair vs Ongoing Massage Therapy Appointments
Beyond comfort and privacy, the lifetime value of owning a massage chair also cuts down on the overall cost of getting a massage for stroke patients. Instead of the never-ending expense of additional massage therapy appointments, a massage is available to you forever with just the singular investment in your massage chair. Their durability means they can last a very long time when cared for properly, making them a wise investment.
Different Massage Techniques Available
Today’s massage chairs also offer a wide variety of massage techniques to give you options for what you need most. From therapeutic options like Swedish massage to Thai massage and more, you can choose what you need most without having to worry if your massage therapist is skilled enough for that technique.
Massage Chair Features Like Body Scanning and Biofeedback
Bonus massage chair features like heat therapy and zero gravity reclining capabilities enhance your experience, resulting in a better massage for stroke patients. Massage chairs with body scanning technology, for instance, ensure your massage for stroke recovery begins at the perfect level for your body each time. It’s a personalized experience without having to leave your home. Top-of-the-line massage chairs may even offer AI massage chair technology. This technology uses two types of biofeedback to assess your body and determine what you need most from your massage experience. It eliminates almost any difference between using a massage chair vs human massage!
No matter what model you choose, massage chairs offer better accessibility, convenience, and lifetime value. Their durability and the ability to use them whenever you need makes them invaluable for massage after stroke and in conjunction with other self care activities. Talk with your doctor about using massage for stroke recovery and see how a massage chair could change your life.
Does massage help stroke recovery? For many, it does! Massage for stroke patients may help manage symptoms or even alleviate after effects of a stroke. Each person’s path to recovery is different, so be sure to consult a medical professional before you begin any new form of treatment. With massage for stroke recovery, however, you could find a way to improve your quality of life.
Curious about using a massage chair as part of your stroke recovery routine? Compare massage chairs and see which is best for you.