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Stroke Rehabilitation

High blood pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, Smoking and Obesity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year and for about 610,000 of them this is their first stroke. Strokes kill about 140,000 Americans every year, which is 1 in every 20 deaths. About 87% are ischemic strokes where blood flow in the brain is blocked, usually by a blood clot. A smaller percentage are strokes from cerebral hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain). While a stroke can happen at any age, the risk for having a stroke increases with age. In more than half of seniors over the age of 65 who have a stroke they are usually left with reduced mobility and many will have long-term disabilities. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity are the greatest risk factors for causing a stroke. Research shows that stress may also play a part, especially in further strokes, so it is very important to reduce stress, especially during the stroke rehabilitation period.

Stroke Rehabilitation Leads to Faster Improvements

Stroke rehabilitation helps people regain skills that they lost because of damage to their brains from a stroke. The main goal is really to improve quality of life. There is no one uniform plan for stroke rehabilitation, as each person who suffered a stroke must have a tailored plan based on what part of his/her brain was affected by the stroke. Some people are left mainly with physical and neurological problems, while others face cognitive challenges and some have suffered both physical and cognitive damage. Studies show, however, that patients who choose stroke rehabilitation improve much faster than those who are not enrolled in any kind of stroke rehab. Also, it is advised to start stroke rehab as soon as possible while still in the hospital. In fact the rate of recovery is best in the weeks and months following the stroke.

Stroke rehabilitation may last only a few weeks or for several years depending on how much brain damage there is. Rehabilitation facilities dealing with stroke have a very wide variety of therapists who treat stroke patients.

Social Workers

The social worker’s job is to help guide the patient’s family and the patient to finding the best possible rehabilitation care, whether it will be at home, as an out-patient in a clinic or hospital setting, or in a residential rehabilitation facility. Also, the social worker will search for what kind of rehabilitation fits in with the financial status of the patient and family and what kind of treatment will be covered by insurance.

Psychologist and Counseling

In some cases psychological counseling may also be necessary to help the patient understand why there is a need for a rehabilitation program. Also the patient may be suffering from anxiety and depression, especially if they have lost motor abilities, have vision problems, have lost ability to speak and communicate, have become incontinent and have lost bladder and bowel control or they are just finding themselves in a relatively helpless position. In this case a psychiatrist may also be consulted.

The Medical Team

The doctor’s main goal is to get the patient healed from the blood clot or the cerebral hemorrhage, depending on which kind of stroke the patient had and to get the patient on treatment to prevent more strokes. Other specialists like neurologists may also be a part of the team.

Nurses trained in Rehabilitation are also a very important part of the stroke team.


Physical Therapists work to teach patients how to regain some motor ability.

Occupational Therapists work to get patients to regain some skills by craft work or some kinds of projects.

Speech Therapists are on the team to help people learn to talk again.

Recreational Therapists may use music and pet therapy.



Making lifestyle changes like giving up smoking might help to prevent strokes. However, if someone has suffered a stroke it is imperative to begin rehabilitation as soon as possible.


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