Treatment and recovery from stroke will vary from patient-to-patient. Some of the factors that will determine your treatment include the type of stroke, its location and effects, and your individual goals for recovery.
How are different types of strokes treated?
The two main types of strokes are treated differently. There are three main treatments for ischemic strokes. They include clot-busting medication (such as tPA), anticoagulants (such as warfarin), and surgical procedures (such as carotid endarterectomy, angioplasty, or stent placement). Hemorrhagic strokes are treated with surgical interventions and/or endovascular procedures, such as coiling or clipping. This is where the “T” in F-A-S-T becomes important. Receiving treatment quickly minimizes the damage done by the stroke.
Inpatient rehabilitation for stroke recovery
If you have had a stroke, participation in a rehabilitation program will aid in your recovery. In an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, you receive care from a physician-led multidisciplinary team. These teams are usually comprised of physiatrists, rehab nurses, case managers, dietitians, pharmacists, speech, occupational, and physical therapists and YOU. Each team member has their own role in your recovery. But as a team, they will be responsible for ensuring that you and your family are properly educated. You will not only learn what a stroke is, but how to prevent another stroke in the future. Your therapists will rely on the principles of neuroplasticity to optimize your recovery while you are in inpatient rehab.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. The brain can compensate for the damage caused by a stroke by reorganizing and forming new connections between the neurons that are still intact. In order for those connections to form, they must be stimulated in the proper fashion. This is where therapy will play a vital role in your recovery.
Meet your therapists
Your physical therapist will assess your overall ability to move and how you keep your balance. He or she will help you improve your ability to stand up, sit down, walk and maintain your balance. This will be done by leading you through exercise and repeated practice of functional mobility.
Your occupational therapist will assess your ability to complete your activities of daily living, or ADLs. ADLs are activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, writing, and cooking. You will learn techniques to succeed in your ADLs and regain as much independence as possible. This is accomplished by addressing fine motor coordination, upper body strength, endurance, and balance. Your OT will also teach you the use of adaptive equipment and compensatory strategies.
Your speech therapist will assess your communication, cognition, and ability to swallow food and water. He or she will help you improve your ability to communicate and remember and process information. You will also learn to problem solve through practice and compensatory strategies. If there are changes in your swallowing function, your speech therapist will complete a swallow study and can recommend a modified diet, if needed.
Monika Pawar, DPT is the Lead Physical Therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Ohio. Monika has practiced physical therapy for 12 years in multiple settings, including day rehab, skilled nursing, and home health, however, her passion remains in inpatient rehabilitation. During her free time, Monika likes to hang out and laugh with her amazing work family and explore National Parks and eat good food with her beloved husband, Jim.