Stroke Rehabilitation Specialists
Rehabilitation is a team effort. The team of stroke
rehabilitation specialists usually includes physiatrists, neurologists,
rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech and language
pathologists, psychologists, social workers, recreational therapists, and case
managers. This team seeks to reduce disability in the following six areas:
- Mobility (e.g., moving in bed, getting up from a chair, sitting on a toilet)
- Locomotion (e.g., walking or using a wheelchair, climbing stairs)
- Self care (e.g., brushing teeth, dressing, cooking, driving a car, etc.)
- Communication (e.g., speech problems, difficulty remembering appropriate
words, swallowing problems)
- Cognition (e.g., mental functioning and organization, memory problems)
- Control of bowel and bladder function
The team addresses these problems by providing education to the
patient and family. The team also helps the patient to use exercise and training
to make the best use of muscles that are recovering. Expert medical treatment
from the team is meant to simplify the care that is needed so that the patient
can return to home, family and work.
The team members—physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational
therapists and speech therapists—are discussed in more detail.
Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in physical medicine and
rehabilitation including pain management and spine problems. They help people
regain function after surgery, a stroke, or an injury.
Physiatrists lead a team of health professionals that may
include rehabilitation nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists,
speech therapists, therapeutic recreational specialists and social workers.
These rehabilitation specialists work together to improve a person's recovery
from an illness, surgery, or injury with the goal of returning to their previous
lifestyle of independence.
Physical therapists can help stroke patients to regain strength and mobility.
Therapists can help patients learn how to use walking aids such as crutches, a
walker, or a cane when needed.
Occupational therapists can teach patients how to modify the home and workplace
environments for safer and more effective mobility. Occupational therapists can
recommend assistive devices to aid in tasks such as driving, bathing, dressing,
housekeeping, and certain work activities.
Speech-language therapists can help stroke patients maintain as many
communication skills as possible. Therapists also can teach communication
techniques that conserve energy, including non-verbal communication skills.
Speech-language therapists are also available to:
- Recommend appropriate communication techniques to provide treatment that
will aid in the success of daily activities.
- Treat all types of speech, language, and communication problems.
Prosthetists and orthotists
Prosthetists specialize in the fabrication of artificial limbs (prostheses) and
orthotists specialize in fabricating devices (orthotics) to support or control a
part of the body--such as an arm or leg--that has been impaired due to recent
surgery, stroke or injury. These devices include a range of splints, braces and
special footwear. The prosthetists and orthotists work alongside doctors,
nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists to provide the best
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Fact Sheet.
- American Stroke Association. Life After Stroke: Post-Stroke Rehabilitation.
- National Stroke Association. Rehabilitation Therapy After Stroke.
National Stroke Association. Rehabilitation Services.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/27/2009…#13487