The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recently issued its first guidelines regarding rehabilitation after a stroke. In the guidelines, the organization recommends inpatient facilities for stroke rehabilitation.
“Many people survive strokes with some levels of disability,” according to Carolee J. Winstein, Ph.D., P.T., and lead author of the new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. “There is increasing evidence that rehabilitation can have a big impact on the survivors’ quality of life.”
Whenever possible, the American Stroke Association strongly recommends that stroke patients be treated at an inpatient rehabilitation facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. An inpatient facility, which may be a free-standing facility or a separate unit of a hospital, typically provides:
• At least 3 hours of rehabilitation a day from physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists
• Nurses who are continuously available
• Daily physician visits
“If the hospital suggests sending your loved one to a skilled nursing facility after a stroke, advocate for the patient to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility instead – unless there is a good reason not to – such as being medically unable to participate in rehab,” says Winstein, who is a professor of biokinesiology and physical therapy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. “There is considerable evidence that patients benefit from the team approach in a facility that understands the importance of rehabilitation during the early period after a stroke.”
“For a person to fulfill their full potential after a stroke, there needs to be a coordinated effort and ongoing communication between a team of professionals as well as the patient, family and caregivers,” Winstein says.