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:
- Management of current medical conditions to include the cause of the stroke; decrease complications, minimize impairment and maximize function
- 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.