Stroke Rehabilitation Programs

Rehabilitation of the patient with a stroke begins during the acute treatment phase. As the patient's condition improves, a more extensive rehabilitation program is often begun.

The outlook for stroke patients today is more hopeful than ever due to advances in both stroke treatment and rehabilitation. Stroke rehabilitation works best when the patient, family, and rehabilitation staff works together as a team. Family members must learn about impairments and disabilities caused by the stroke and how to help the patient achieve optimal function again.

The goal of stroke rehabilitation is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life — physically, emotionally, and socially. Rehabilitation is designed to meet each person's specific needs; therefore, each program is different. Some general treatment components for stroke rehabilitation programs include the following: 
          - Treating the basic disease and preventing complications 
          - Treating the disability and improving function
          - Providing adaptive tools and altering the environment
          - Teaching the patient and family and helping them adapt to lifestyle changes

Stroke can cause several types of disabilities: paralysis or problems controlling movement such as walking or balance and/or swallowing; sensory (ability to feel touch, pain, temperature, or position) disturbances; difficulty using or understanding language; thinking and memory problems, and emotional disturbances. Stroke rehabilitation can help you recover from the effects of stroke, relearn skills, and new ways to perform tasks and depends on many variables, including the following:
          - Cause, location, and severity of stroke
          - Type and degree of any impairments and disabilities from the stroke
          - Overall health of the patient
           - Family support

Areas covered in stroke rehabilitation programs may include:

Patient need                                                    Example
Self-care skills, including activities                   Feeding, grooming, bathing, dressing,
of daily living (ADLs)                                         toileting, and sexual functioning

Mobility skills                                                    Walking, transfers, and self-propelling
                                                                         a wheelchair

Communication skills                                       Speech, writing, and alternative methods
                                                                         of communication

Cognitive skills                                                 Memory, concentration, judgment,
                                                                         problem solving, and organizational skills

Socialization skills                                            Interacting with others at home and within
                                                                         the community

Vocational training                                           Work-related skills

Pain management                                           Medications and alternative methods of
                                                                        managing pain

Psychological testing                                      Identifying problems and solutions with
                                                                        thinking, behavioral, and emotional issues

Family support                                                Assistance with adapting to lifestyle
                                                                       changes, financial concerns, and
                                                                      discharge planning

Education                                                      Patient and family education and training
                                                                      about stroke, medical care, and adaptive

The Stroke Rehabilitation Team
The stroke rehabilitation team revolves around the patient and family and helps set short- and long-term treatment goals for recovery. Many skilled professionals are part of the neurology rehabilitation team, including any or all of the following:
Critical care nurse
Other specialty doctors
Rehabilitation specialists
Physical therapist
Occupational therapist
Speech/language pathologist
Registered dietitian
Social worker
Case manager
Recreation therapist
Vocational counselor

Types of Stroke Rehabilitation Programs

There are a variety of stroke treatment programs, including the following:
Acute rehabilitation programs
Subacute rehabilitation programs
Long-term care rehabilitation programs
Home health rehabilitation programs

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