How to Achieve the Best Life Outcomes after a Stroke

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:

  1. Management of current medical conditions to include the cause of the stroke; decrease complications, minimize impairment and maximize function
  2. 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.

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