Stroke Rehabilitation

When a person suffers from a stroke, his or her brain undergoes an "attack" where the blood flow to the brain is interrupted for a period of time. Brain cells begin to die due to a lack of oxygen and functions of the body controlled by the affected areas of the brain are lost or damaged.

After having a stroke many survivors undergo a form of rehab in order to regain function either lost or damaged by the stroke.

As the leading cause of disability in the United States, stroke affects people of all ages and can cause a wide range of problems, including:

  • Bowl/bladder dysfunction
  • Difficulty with daily activities​
  • General weakness
  • Memory difficulties
  • Swallowing and language problems
  • Walking or balance trouble

Individualized Stroke Treatment for Optimal Results

Because each person's needs are different, the integrated stroke rehabilitation team helps identify your priorities and customize your treatment plan.

Due to the wide range of problems a patient can experience following a stroke, the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation offers a comprehensive stroke treatment plan overseen by a physiatrist. With a goal of increasing independence, your care team will work to develop the right plan for you to reach your goals.

For patients who experience mobility and balance issues or even partial paralysis, various rehabilitation techniques are employed to increase functional movement and prevent further impairment. Patients perform coordinated limb movement exercises or adapted in-home tasks, such as re-learning how to dress, under the supervision of a rehabilitation specialist.

Cognitive therapy for patients with residual difficulty in memory or speaking benefit from problem-solving exercises and specialized speech therapy (including swallow therapy) for stroke survivors.

Technological resources used in rehabilitation allow patients the ability to communicate effectively, even when a stroke compromises the ability to speak.

Other forms of rehabilitation patients may experience include:

  • Skills and adaptive techniques to better care for yourself at home
  • Mobility and strength training to regain the ability to walk, with or without the use of support, and improve coordination
  • Prescribed medication to manage post-stroke effects
  • Emotional and mental health treatment

Stroke education, aimed at optimizing your recovery, is also an important component of your care plan. You, and your family and friends, receive information to help recognize the warning signs of stroke and minimize your risk for additional strokes.

Depending on the severity and effects of a stroke your doctor may recommend more intensive rehabilitation in the form of an inpatient program.

Learn more about inpatient stroke treatment and rehab ​at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute​.

Continuum of Care

Following discharge from inpatient rehab, follow-up care with a doctor is vital to ensure that all possible supportive therapies are prescribed and carried out through your recovery from stroke.

Our outpatient therapy services address post-stroke issues such as:

Outpatient services are available at multiple UPMC locations, including:


Make an Appointment

Call 1-800-533-UPMC (533-8762) to make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Want to learn more about therapy following a stroke? Check out this blog post and infographic about stroke treatment options​ on UPMC HealthBeat.

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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