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Center for Stroke Rehabilitation at UPMC

As the leading cause of disability in the U.S., stroke affects people of all ages. A stroke can affect a person's cognitive and physical abilities.

After a stroke, people often need specialized rehabilitation to heal. For those who have lost significant function, it's vital to get treatment as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute can help.

Your rehab team at UPMC:

  • Tailors treatment plans for your individual needs.
  • Focuses on helping you regain your function and self-reliance so you can safely return to your community.
  • Provides a full range of advanced rehab services.

The Effects of Stroke

A stroke is a brain injury that occurs when the blood supply to the brain stops.

It can cause problems with:

  • Thinking and memory.
  • Swallowing.
  • Language and speaking.
  • Walking or balance.
  • Daily activities.
  • Mental health.

A Stroke Treatment Plan to Get You Back Where You Belong

Your rehab team at UPMC will work with you to help improve:

  • Speech and language skills.
  • Swallowing problems.
  • Movement and balance.
  • Physical function.
  • Skills for daily living.

Most of these issues will improve with time and rehab.

The length of time you'll need in rehabilitation will depend on the severity of your stroke and your specific needs.

Advanced Technology for Healing After Stroke

Stroke rehab at UPMC gives you access to the latest technology — many through our Robotics and Gaming Center — to help you:

  • Learn to walk again.
  • Improve balance and range of motion.
  • Do more than one task at the same time.
  • Gain strength and stamina.
  • Increase reaction time.

Reaching these milestones will help you live a more independent life after your rehabilitation stay.

Swallowing Tests and Rehab After Stroke

Trouble swallowing impacts many people after a stroke.

Prompt testing and treatment for swallowing problems is vital for your recovery.

Your speech-language pathologist at UPMC:

  • Will work with you to see if you have a swallowing disorder.
  • May order a swallow test.
  • Will work with other members of the stroke rehab team on a diet plan for you until your swallowing improves.

Modified barium swallow study after stroke

This moving x-ray watches the swallowing process to see what happens to food as you swallow it.

During the modified barium swallow study after your stroke, your speech-language pathologist will:

  • Have you swallow foods and barium of different consistencies, such as liquids, pudding, or cookies. Barium has artificial flavors and sweeteners, so it shouldn't taste bad. But some people say it has a bitter or chalky taste.
  • Watch to see where the food goes when you swallow. If it goes into the esophagus, this is normal. If food goes into the airway, this is abnormal.
  • Make note if you cough (aspirate) if food goes into the airway. If you don't cough, this is a “silent aspiration." Both types can cause pneumonia.

If the test shows you shouldn't eat or drink by mouth, you may need a feeding tube until you can safely swallow.

A minimally-invasive fiberoptic endoscopic exam after stroke is another test that tells us what happens before and after you swallow.

Family Involvement in the Rehabilitation Process

We ask family and caregivers to get involved in their loved one's stroke rehab. This can help you get ready for the responsibilities of caregiving.

Caregivers and family members can help their loved one in the following ways:

  • Attend occupational, physical, and speech therapy sessions.
  • Encourage and help them practice new skills they learned.
  • Learn what they can do alone, and what they need help doing.
  • Spend time with the nurses to learn medication schedules.
  • Visit them. Take part in activities and meals and do things they enjoy.
  • Eat well, get enough rest, and take breaks from caregiving as needed.

More Stroke Treatments and Services at UPMC

As your rehab progresses, other helpful treatments and services may include:

Our Stroke Rehabilitation Experts at UPMC

Learn More About Rehabilitation After Stroke

Read stroke rehab stories from UPMC patients.

Or visit UPMC's HealthBeat blog for:

Contact the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

Contact the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute to learn more about inpatient rehab.