The kind of rehab and therapy you’ll need post-stroke depends on the severity of the stroke and its effects. You and your caregiver should talk to your healthcare team to discuss the types of physical and cognitive challenges you face and create a detailed plan to address each one. Your plan should also include steps to decrease the risk of another stroke.
Types of rehabilitation facilities
Your medical team should advise you on the best rehab facilities in your area and whether you will need an inpatient or outpatient program. Be sure that you are going to an accredited rehabilitation facility.
Inpatient rehab provides intensive, coordinated services customized to your particular needs. Usually, a stroke patient will remain in inpatient rehab for two or three weeks, receiving intensive training of several hours per day, five or six days per week. You should see measurable improvement during the time in inpatient rehab.
Patients whose stroke-related issues are not very severe or those who are ready to be discharged from an inpatient facility can continue to receive rehab treatment from an outpatient facility. These facilities offer a wide range of services and therapies depending on your needs, but the amount of time spent in therapy is less than at an inpatient facility, so it’s critically important that you practice at home for hours every day.
If a patient is at home but unable to get to the outpatient facility, in-home rehab is available. The disadvantage of in-home services is the lack of specialized equipment. But the advantage is that, since it takes place at home, your therapist can see your situation and help you devise methods to continue practicing at home between sessions.
Patients who need nursing services but are stable and do not need hospital care may be sent to a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home, either directly from the hospital or after a stay at an inpatient rehab facility. Some therapy is generally offered at these facilities, but it is not usually intensive.
What to expect from rehab
The goal of rehabilitation is to retrain your brain to work properly again. The key areas of therapy include:
- Motor skills and balance – focusing on mobility, reducing fall risk, and performing daily tasks and self-care
- Strength and coordination – to strengthen and tone muscles with a regular exercise program
- Cognitive – rebuilding thinking skills, problem-solving, comprehension, memory
- Speech – retraining the speech pathways and mechanisms, including mouth movement and swallowing
- Vision – using eye exercises to improve visual issues caused by stroke
- Social – improving interaction skills and developing methods of communicating during recovery
- Occupational – developing skills or training for work, along with emotional stamina in order to function well in a work environment
- Adapting – helping patients develop adaptations to the “new normal” without losing motivation to continue to improve
Your medical team will develop a customized set of therapies to be performed by a variety of specialized therapists: physical, occupational, recreational, speech, and swallow therapists, among others. Neurologists, physiatrists, and rehab nurses will work together to guide and coordinate your therapy, which may utilize specialized machines and technology.
Focusing on recovery and prevention
As you work with your therapists, you may find you’ll hit plateaus. Knowing that they will happen and that you can push past them and continue to improve can help you avoid discouragement or the desire to quit. Continue to receive evaluations from your medical team to see how your therapy and exercises can be adjusted over time to keep the improvement going. Never give up but keep in mind that recovery can take years.
At the same time, you should be doing everything you can to decrease the risk of another stroke. Follow your doctor’s advice for lifestyle changes and health improvements, such as lowering blood pressure or cholesterol or quitting smoking. And talk to your doctor about using Neuralert stroke detection wristbands as an important safeguard so that you can have an early warning signal if a stroke does begin to come on. Our state-of-the-art, AI-driven technology wristband looks like a smartwatch and can detect warning signs of a stroke within minutes. Early stroke treatment saves lives and can often prevent or limit long-term side effects. Ask your doctor about adding Neuralert’s stroke detection wristbands to your stroke prevention plan.