When a loved one suffers from a stroke, it is an unexpected and life changing event for everyone in the family. Stroke can cause paralysis or weakness on one side, visual/perceptual impairment, reduced coordination and balance, language and cognitive difficulty, bowel and bladder issues and swallowing difficulty, among many other issues.
Stroke impacts thinking, talking, and daily living skills. Luckily, stroke rehabilitation can help greatly improve a patient’s symptoms from a stroke and in many cases, even return them to their former independent lives. Valerie Bucek, MA CCC-SLP/L treats stroke patients regularly as a speech therapist for HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital and sees the positive effects rehabilitation has on these patients every day. “It is important to have a treatment plan unique to the individual patient in order to address that patient’s specific needs and challenges while building on their strengths and preserved skills,” says Bucek. “No two patients are alike. Each person is affected by a stroke in different ways and every patient has their own goals and lifestyle.” While there are a variety of settings where a stroke patient can receive rehabilitation services, such as a skilled nursing facility, Bucek says the inpatient route is often the most comprehensive. “The benefits of inpatient rehabilitation for stroke over a skilled nursing facility include an interdisciplinary rehabilitation team led by a physiatrist, access to rehabilitation nursing specialists or CRRNs, more intense therapy sessions of at least 3 hours a day, five to seven days a week, and staff with specialized training certifications for stroke-specific treatments.” The inpatient setting also includes access to a variety of rehabilitation technology that can greatly enhance traditional therapy to help improve grip, gate, swallowing, coordination and more. Furthermore, inpatient rehabilitation hospitals can be certified by the Joint Commission for rehabilitation programs such as stroke. In order to qualify for this rigorous designation, a hospital’s program must follow evidence-based Clinical Practice guidelines, monitor specific performance measures to continuously improve the program and meet or exceed the Joint Commission Disease Specific Care standards. HealthSouth Harmarville and Sewickley are both Joint Commission certified. “Patients and caregivers should look for this certification because it shows the commitment the hospital has to this specific patient population to provide exceptional care and services,” says Bucek.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospitals of Pittsburgh and their programs for stroke, visit demandhealthsouth.com or call 877-937-7342