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​Stroke Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is an important element of stroke care.

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers a comprehensive stroke rehab program to help patients recover deficits the best they can.

Rehabilitation

Some people do not need rehabilitation after a stroke, either because the stroke was mild or they have fully recovered. Others may be too disabled to participate.

However, stroke rehabilitation helps many patients.

Hospital staff will help the patient and family decide about rehabilitation and choose the right program or services.

There are several kinds of rehabilitation programs:

  • Hospital programs: These are inpatient programs provided through rehabilitation hospitals or by rehabilitation units in acute care hospitals. Hospital programs are usually more intense than other programs, and require more effort from the patient.
  • Nursing facility programs: As in hospital programs, the patient stays at the facility during rehabilitation. Nursing facility programs are very different from each other in what rehabilitation services they provide, so it is important to get specific information about each one.
  • Outpatient programs: These allow a patient who lives at home to get a full range of services by visiting a hospital outpatient department, outpatient rehabilitation facility, or day hospital program.
  • Home-based programs: The patient can live at home and receive rehabilitation services from visiting professionals. An important advantage of home programs is that patients learn skills in the same place where they will use them.
  • Individual rehabilitation services: Many stroke survivors do not need a complete range of rehabilitation services. Instead, they may need only certain types of service, such as regular physical therapy or speech therapy. These services are available from outpatient and home care programs.

When is rehabilitation not recommended?

  • When a person may be unconscious or too disabled to benefit.
  • A person who is unable to learn may be better helped by maintenance care at home or in a nursing facility.
  • A person who is at first too weak for rehabilitation may benefit from a gradual recovery period at home or in a nursing facility.

Hospital staff are responsible for helping plan the best way to care for the patient after discharge from acute care. They also can provide or arrange for social services and family education. This is not the only chance to participate in rehabilitation. Patients who initially are unable to enter rehabilitation may recover enough to do so at a later time.

What happens during stroke rehabilitation?

In hospital or nursing facility rehabilitation programs, the patient may spend several hours a day performing:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Group activities

Setting rehabilitation goals

The goals of rehabilitation depend on the effects of the stroke. The patient, the patient's family, and the rehabilitation program staff work together to set realistic goals.

UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

When a stroke's effects are severe, patients may benefit from rehabilitation therapy.

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute's Center for Stroke Rehabilitation:

  • Focuses on healing and helping patients regain independence after a stroke.
  • Provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
  • Offers comprehensive services to help assist with recovery.

The program encompasses physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help people overcome problems associated with stroke, including:

  • Cognitive difficulties, such as thinking and memory
  • Swallowing
  • Language
  • Balance and walking
  • Daily living activities, such as bathing and eating
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