The effects of a stroke are unique to each patient and everyone’s path to recovery will look different. However, there are inherent truths to stroke treatment that should guide clinical decisions on the best care for patients.
The evidence-based facts below supply important information on stroke recovery and the role that rehabilitation plays in reaching one’s full potential.
In its guidelines for adult stroke rehabilitation published in 2016, the AHA/ASA calls for intensive, multidisciplinary treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital.
Patients at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital receive at least three hours of therapy five days per week, while a nursing home typically only offers one to two hours per day. At an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, a team of nurses, therapists and physicians work together to form a care plan that provides you the right dose of rehabilitation to help patients reach your goals.
Carolee Winstein MD, lead author on the AHA/ASA guidelines notes that if the hospital suggests sending your loved one to a skilled nursing facility after a stroke, advocate for the patient to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility instead.
Though a physician or case manager may make a recommendation on where a patient should go for stroke rehabilitation, patients have a voice, and you can empower patients to speak up.
Suggest patients and families visit and take a tour. Many patients are surprised to find themselves wheeled into a nursing facility that performs rehabilitation and not a rehabilitation hospital or true rehabilitation facility. Encourage patients to ask the following questions as they visit various facilities.
In a 2013 study by Dr. Hua Wang, the daily treatment of at least three hours of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy was associated with better functional gains than those who received less than three hours per day.
A study published in Clinical Rehabilitation shows that social and cognitive stimulation in an enriched environment after a stroke may enhance recovery. At an inpatient rehabilitation hospital this environment may include:
Though it may not be the most glamorous to discuss, bowel and bladder incontinence is one of the major reasons a patient may not go home after a stroke (Cochrane Reports). Encompass Health rehabilitation hospitals has specialized bowel and bladder programs are in place to help patients regain continence.
For more information about the level of care we provide at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospitals, visit encompasshealth.com/birminghamrehab.
Richard C. Senelick, MD is a Neurorehabilitation physician and the editor of Encompass Health Press.
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