Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

What is a rehabilitation program?

Rehabilitation is a key part of stroke recovery. Though it doesn’t reverse the effects of a stroke, the goal is to restore as much independence as possible by improving your physical, mental and emotional functions. Different types of therapies will be designed for your specific needs to relearn skills you lost as a result of your stroke. Depending on the parts of the brain affected, rehabilitation therapy will focus on helping you with movement, speech, strength and daily living activities, such as eating, dressing or grocery shopping. Stroke rehab is recommended for all persons affected by stroke, as those who participate in stroke rehabilitation recover better.

Under your health care professional’s direction, rehabilitation specialists provide a treatment program suited to your needs. Physicians who specialize in rehabilitation are called physiatrists.

Services may include:

  • Rehabilitation therapy nursing
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech-language therapy
  • Audiology recreational therapy
  • Nutritional care
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Social work
  • Psychiatry/Psychology
  • Chaplaincy
  • Patient/Family education
  • Support groups

Check out the What to Expect from Stroke Rehabilitation Checklist (PDF) 

What will I do in rehabilitation?

Depending on your specific needs, services to improve your independence may include relearning skills such as:

  • Self-care: feeding, grooming, bathing, toileting and dressing
  • Mobility: transferring from chair to bed/bed to chair, walking or self-propelling a wheelchair
  • Speech: communicating and language therapy
  • Cognitive: memory recall and problem solving
  • Social: interacting with other people
  • Work: vocational evaluation, driver’s training and programs to improve your physical and emotional stamina so you can go back to work

When does rehabilitation begin?

Your rehabilitation should start in the hospital as soon as possible after the stroke. If you are medically stable, rehabilitation may begin one day after the stroke, and should be continued after release from the hospital, if needed. For some, rehabilitation can take place months or years later as your condition improves, or in case it worsens. Ultimately, your health care professional determines when you’re medically stable and able to benefit from rehab. Most rehabilitation services require a doctor’s order.

Where do I get rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation services are provided in different types of settings. Your stroke rehabilitation options will depend on several factors:

  • Your ability to tolerate intensity of rehabilitation (hours/stamina)
  • Degree of disability
  • Your finances
  • Insurance coverage
  • Geographical location

Rehabilitation program settings include:

  • Acute care and rehabilitation hospitals
  • Sub-acute facilities
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Home health agencies

You may be involved in rehabilitation in some or all of these settings. It depends on your needs and what type of rehabilitation program is best for you.

Making Rehabilitation Decisions 

We understand that stroke can change the rest of your life in an instant. High-quality rehab will help ensure that you reach your full-potential recovery.