Recovering from a Stroke: The Rehabilitation Team
Recovering from a stroke is a team effort. If you are a caregiver of a patient recovering from a stroke, or you have had a stroke yourself, the months after you leave the hospital are an important time to get assistance from a professional healthcare team for your rehabilitation.
When recovering from a stroke, you need to first discuss your situation with the discharge nurse at the hospital frankly and realistically. Can the patient sit up in bed and move to a chair with little assistance? Can the patient speak understandably to communicate needs? If not, then it may not be time for discharge yet. And, if the patient is discharged from the hospital, where and how will he perform a rehabilitation program ?
Ask the Discharge Planner:
- Would it be best for you and for the patient to go to a rehabilitation facility considering the needs of the patient and the abilities of the caregiver?
- What financial help does the patient have to afford various kinds of care?
- What kind of therapy would the patient need? Physical therapy? Speech therapy?
- Would it be possible to travel for outpatient therapy on a regular basis?
- Could visiting healthcare professionals do a rehabilitation at the patients home?
Be certain the discharge plan is really possible considering your own abilities, the patient’s condition, and the environment. You don’t want to have to come back to the hospital immediately because the plan did not work for this patient or for you as a caregiver.
The Rehab Team
Can you do rehabilitation at home? You can experience rehabilitation after a stroke at your own home if you have a team of health care professionals to assist. You will need help from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, physician, and possibly a social worker.
Modifying your home environment for rehabilitation is easier than you think. Provide an accessible entrance to your home and a bedroom on the first floor for wheelchair and walker users. You will need to have access to a nearby bathroom, and modify the toilet and tub for safety and accessibility. It would be good to acquire a portable bedside toilet and place it in the bedroom. Be sure to clear obstacles out of pathways in your home. Ask your therapist to have some demonstrations on how to help the patient into and out of the car.
The Occupational Therapist
An occupational therapist is a professional expert on assessing the patient’s needs and the home environment and in giving caregivers information about making modifications. Ask the doctor at the hospital to authorize occupational therapy for the patient. Occupational therapists can make living at home not just possible, but enjoyable again, after a stroke.
The Physical Therapist
Moving about the home is important in rehabilitating the patient. Does the patient know how to use a walker correctly, especially the brakes? Has the patient had any training in moving into and out of a wheelchair safely? How is the patient getting into and out of bed? As a caregiver, how do you help the patient do daily tasks without hurting your back? This is the area of care that a physical therapist knows very well. Ask the doctor to authorize visits from a physical therapist so they can assess the patient and the environment and train you and the patient to be safe when moving about the home.
The Speech Therapist
Speech is often affected by a stroke, and a speech and language therapist can help with various speech and vocal exercises, and advice about swallowing and chewing foods and liquids. Not being able to communicate clearly is so frustrating for the patient and it helps the patient’s self-esteem and sociability to improve in speech fluency. Having impaired chewing is another possible embarrassment for a patient. A speech and language therapist can do therapy in the home and can also refer you to other care available in the community. Caregivers will need to practice good listening and patience while the patient attempts to improve in these areas. Again the doctor will need to authorize speech therapy for the patient.
The Social Worker
A social worker on your rehabilitation team can be a source of information and encouragement for you and the patient. The social worker will be informed about local resources for durable medical equipment, home healthcare agencies, in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation facilities in your area, and handling the financial costs of care. When you as a caregiver are distressed and troubled about your responsibilities, a social worker can be your counselor and can refer you to support groups and give advice to help.
So, before the patient is discharged from the hospital after a stroke, call for a team of professionals to back you up and support the patient in this very important time. Rehabilitation takes a team, and the benefits for the patient are remarkable. As a caregiver, you will also benefit from the support of professionals who can offer valuable advice and help at home or wherever the patient is being rehabilitated.
See some of the products which enhance bathroom safety for stroke patients in the Bath Shop of Caregiver-Aid.com