Rehabilitation for Stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is also the most frequent cause of severe disability. It is estimated that there are 500,000 new cases of stroke each year in this country and although the incidence of stroke has been declining because of better efforts to control risk factors (high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise), stroke is still a major health problem.

Strokes are now frequently being referred to as "brain attacks". It is very important that individuals seek medical attention quickly when symptoms first occur. Research now shows that early intervention can dramatically improve a patient's recovery.

Equally important in the recovery process is an early, team-oriented approach to rehabilitation. Such is the case for patients admitted to the Medical Rehabilitation Program at the Jones Memorial Health Center. Most of the patients who are referred to the inpatient rehabilitation program come from WCA Hospital or other area hospitals. The rehabilitation process usually starts in the acute care setting, once the patient is medically stable. As the patient progresses and they are deemed to be appropriate candidates for admission to the rehabilitation program at JMHC, they are discharged from acute care and admitted for an intensive rehabilitation program.

Dr. Brooke Kelly is a physiatrist involved with the care and management of the patients admitted to the Medical Rehabilitation Program at JMHC. These physicians, who specialize in rehabilitative medicine, lead the team of other rehabilitation specialists, making sure that all components of the program are working cohesively for the benefit of the patient. Each patient receives on average, a total of three hours of intensive therapy per day. Therapies include physical, occupational, and speech therapy as indicated.

Recreation therapists also work with the patients utilizing such unique programs as pet therapy, therapeutic gardening, and community outings that enhance the patient's functional outcome. Rehabilitation nurses care for the patients and emphasize teaching the patient to become as independent as possible. Other members of the rehab team include dieticians, social workers, case managers, and psychologists, all of whom play an important role in the patient's recovery.

Another important team member in the recovery process is the patient's family. Family acceptance and support is critical in the recovery process. Prior to discharge, family members are encouraged to attend therapy sessions to learn how to help the patient with such activities as transfers, exercises, and activities of daily living. Family meetings are held as necessary to assist in the transition to the home environment. Once discharged, patients frequently continue their rehabilitation in their homes or as an outpatient at the Jones Memorial Health Center.

Although stroke can be a devastating condition, many individuals are successfully rehabilitated and are able to lead productive, meaningful, and satisfying lives. The rehabilitation team at the Jones Memorial Health Center is very dedicated to helping each stroke patient achieve the highest possible level of function. In 2002, 84% of the stroke patients admitted for rehabilitation to the Medical Rehab Program at JMHC were able to be discharged to the community. This compares very favorably to regional and national averages.

For information on our program related to stroke rehabilitation, please call the Medical Rehabilitation Unit at (716) 664-8296.

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