Stroke rehabilitation begins almost immediately after being admitted to the hospital and often continues for at least one to two months afterward. The primary goal is to prevent stroke complications, such as stiffening of the limbs and deep vein thrombosis. It typically consists of the following.
Patients learn new ways to perform day-to-day activities (for example, writing, bathing, cooking or job-related tasks) that are affected by their disability.
Specialists provide instruction and exercises to help patients regain the ability to walk and move independently and to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and overall fitness.
Speech/language pathologists help patients regain as much of their lost language skills as possible. They also help with swallowing problems, which can involve doing exercises, learning new body positions, and making changes in dietary habits to make swallowing easier.
Psychologists and other mental- health professionals can help stroke patients deal with depression and other emotional issues, such as anxiety and anger. These professionals can work with the entire family to help each member adjust.
Social workers provide information on community-based services to stroke patients and their families. These services include home health care, adult daycare, meal programs, such as Meals on Wheels, and transportation services.