Choosing The Right Rehab For Stroke Survivors

Survivors of strokes face a scary, uncertain future.  Up to 50% of victims have moderate-to-severe impairment afterward.  So, choosing the best rehabilitation fit in your particular situation can make a real impact on retaking control of your life after a stroke.

Rehab Options

After initial treatment, the next big decision that stroke patients and their doctors must make is where to seek rehabilitative treatment.  There are situations where this choice is made easy.  Patients with serious disabilities or medical issues will often have no choice but to rehab at an acute care or sub-acute care facility.   

However, if your medical problems are under control, you're often able to decide whether to work with outpatient rehab or seek inpatient care at a long-term care facility or Skilled Nursing Facility. 

A large part of this decision will hinge on what types of therapy each stroke sufferer would benefit most from.  Modern stroke rehabilitation often encompasses a range of different types of therapy.  These may include:

Physical Therapy, focusing on treating motor and sensory impairments.

Occupational Therapy, centering on getting the patient back to performing self-directed activities within their daily lives. 

Recreational Therapy, which goes hand-in-hand with occupational therapy and uses leisure time to help the patient regain life skills. 

Speech-language Pathologists to help relearn how to use language or find other methods of communication. 

Vocational Therapy, important for stroke victims who want to return to work.  Since the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that approximately 25% of all strokes occur between the ages of 45 and 65, vocational therapy can be of particular concern to younger victims.

It's obvious that coordination by a team of health-care professionals and access to the most up-to-date therapy methods are vital for long-term success when recovering from a stroke. 

At-home rehab is appealing due to being significantly less costly than inpatient services.  However, it may be limited as to the types of therapy treatment offered and hours of availability, or determined by what the patient has available at home or has access to.  Transportation to appointments multiple times per week can also be an issue for many patients and their families, as can constant coordination of services.   

Inpatient care at a nursing facility can provide a good compromise both in cost and accessibility to the most up-to-date therapy.  Many inpatient facilities have therapists and other assistance available throughout the day, in one location and on one team.            

The Outcome

Whichever option is right, a good rehabilitation plan can help stroke victims recover function over the long run and return to their homes and lives.  For example, one recent study found that stroke victims who received short-term residential care at a facility like The Village had a lower likelihood of remaining in long-term care facilities a year later.  And that is an outcome everyone—including doctors, nurses, families, and patients—is looking for.