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How to Achieve the Best Life Outcomes after a Stroke

The best way to get better after a stroke is to start stroke rehabilitation. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) highly recommends an intensive, multidisciplinary approach to stroke rehabilitation.

This simply means a team effort to rehabilitation which may include physiatrists, neurologists, rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech, language and swallow pathologists and psychologists.

The first step is a detailed examination performed by the physiatrist (a rehabilitation medical doctor) to identify functional deficits caused by the stroke.

Then, the team of medical specialists meet to develop a comprehensive program to ensure the patient is able to regain his/her independence in regular, everyday activities.

What is the role of each medical specialist on a stroke rehab team?

  • Physiatrist (Rehabilitation medical doctor)

Manages and coordinates the care and rehabilitation of stroke patients including:

  1. Management of current medical conditions to include the cause of the stroke; decrease complications, minimize impairment and maximize function
  2. Prevent recurrence of stroke
  • Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist)

The Physiotherapist helps to improve muscle strength, coordination, sitting or standing balance, and the ability to walk. He/she also helps patients regain independence and recover from any impairment caused by the stroke that may influence weakness and unsteadiness.

  • Occupational Therapist

The occupational therapist provides rehabilitation for stroke patients to improve the ability to care for themselves including: bathing, grooming, toileting, dressing, feeding and other self-care activities with the aim towards independence. Additionally, the occupation therapist facilitates hand function rehabilitation and preparation so that patients are able to return to work or independent living.

  • Speech, Language and Swallow Therapist

The speech, language and swallow therapist conducts swallow screening for Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and begins treatment to prevent choking while the patient is eating or drinking.

  1. He/she also evaluates and treats the patient’s ability to communicate which includes speech problems such as slurred speech and language problem such as comprehension, expression of words and in some cases memory.
  • Neuropsychologist

Patients are given a neuropsychological assessment to establish their current conditions and abilities. Once assessment is done, patients are started on a comprehensive program of cognitive training- coordinated care for changes in thinking, behaviourand emotions, as well as the application of biofeedback techniques for managing some conditions.

  • Nutritionist

The nutritionist works along with the swallow therapist to recommend the best ways to prepare food for stroke patients to ensure they are chewing or swallowing without the risk of aspiration (choking) which may occur when food or liquid enters the windpipe to lungs (trachea) instead of stomach.

Do you have other questions about stroke rehabilitation?

Book an appointment today!