At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, rehab begins as soon as a stroke patient is medically stabilized.
It starts by getting stroke patients upright – sitting in bed or in a chair, or standing. This is key to preserving good lung function and preventing pneumonia, blood clots or infections.
Then it’s important to get the patient moving. When an area of the brain is affected by a stroke, the brain will try to re-route the functions controlled by that area, so the sooner a patient tries to regain normal function the quicker that can happen. If a patient is unable to move himself, physical therapists will take them through range-of-motion exercises to help the brain start the process of re-routing signals.
Speech therapists will screen patients showing signs of facial weakness for possible problems swallowing or chewing foods. They will also assess each patient’s ability to speak and process what is being said to them.
Occupational therapists will educate patients and their family about safety issues, such as how to help the patient sit up or get out of bed.
Another key part of rehab is taking steps to prevent a future stroke, so the rehab team and our hospitalists will educate patients and their family about medications, risk factor management, diet and other lifestyle changes to prevent secondary strokes.