Making the Most of Stroke Rehab

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

What the Patient Can Do
If you are a stroke survivor in rehabilitation, keep in mind that you are the most important person in your treatment. You should have a major say in decisions about your care. This is hard for many stroke patients. You may sometimes feel tempted to sit back and let the program staff take charge. If you need extra time to think or have trouble talking, you may find that others are going ahead and making decisions without waiting. Try not to let this happen.

  • Make sure others understand that you want to help make decisions about your care.
  • Bring your questions and concerns to program staff.
  • State your wishes and opinions on matters that affect you.
  • Speak up if you feel that anyone is “talking down” to you; or, if people start talking about you as if you are not there.
  • Remember that you have the right to see your medical records.

To be a partner in your care, you need to be well informed about your treatment and how well you are doing. It may help to record important information about your treatment and progress and write down any questions you have.

If you have speech problems, making your wishes known is hard. The speech-language pathologist can help you to communicate with other staff members, and family members may also help to communicate your ideas and needs.

Most patients find that rehabilitation is hard work. They need to maintain abilities at the same time they are working to regain abilities. It is normal to feel tired and discouraged at times because things that used to be easy before the stroke are now difficult. The important thing is to notice the progress you make and take pride in each achievement.

How the Family Can Help
If you are a family member of a stroke survivor, here are some things you can do:

  • Support the patient’s efforts to participate in rehabilitation decisions.
  • Visit and talk with the patient. You can relax together while playing cards, watching television, listening to the radio, or playing a board game.
  • If the patient has trouble communicating (aphasia), ask the speech-language pathologist how you can help.
  • Participate in education offered for stroke survivors and their families. Learn as much as you can and how you can help.
  • Ask to attend some of the rehabilitation sessions. This is a good way to learn how rehabilitation works and how to help.
  • Encourage and help the patient to practice skills learned in rehabilitation.
  • Make sure that the program staff suggests activities that fit the patient’s needs and interests.
  • Find out what the patient can do alone, what the patient can do with help, and what the patient can’t do. Then avoid doing things for the patient that the patient is able to do. Each time the patient does them, his or her ability and confidence will grow.
  • Take care of yourself by eating well, getting enough rest, and taking time to do things that you enjoy.

To gain more control over the rehabilitation process, keep important information where you can find it. One suggestion is to keep a notebook with the patient.

Tags: Rehabilitation medicine, Stroke, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, speech-language pathologist, Stroke recovery, Rehabilitation robotics

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