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Therapy after a stroke helps patient and family regain and retrain

July 18, 2014

Click here to view the Weekly Report, Stroke Support (pdf, 1.4 MB).

When someone suffers a stroke, fast action can greatly improve their outcome. When their overall condition is stabilized, rehabilitative therapy plays an important role in recovery, often starting within 24 to 48 hours after the stroke. “We start working with patients while they’re in our intensive care unit,” says physical therapist Kelly O’Connor.

St. Mary’s physical, occupational and speech therapists continue to work with patients as they progress from ICU to the neuro-trauma unit, where therapists prepare patients and their families for leaving the hospital. They may be going to another facility or home. Some patients move to St. Mary’s inpatient rehabilitation unit where they’ll have up to three hours of intensive therapy every day.

“Everyone’s recovery is different,” O’Connor says. “Some patients need to regain strength. Others learn new ways to do things.” An important element in a rehabilitation program is focused practice—the same way people learn a new skill, such as playing the piano or improving their golf swing.

“Part of therapy is family education (support group). We teach family members how to safely help their loved one continue to progress and recover,” O’Connor explains.