As a nurse, you will come across patients suffering from various health concerns. Knowing and understanding everything you can about them can help you better educate patients and their families about proper recovery and what to expect. Today, we will discuss rehabilitation after strokes. From the different types of strokes to treatments and recovery, this guide provides a quick overview of what you should know.
A stroke is a medical emergency occurring when the blood flow to a patient’s brain becomes interrupted. Without blood flow, brain cells die, leading to severe and potentially lifelong disability or death. Primarily, there are three types of strokes, including:
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): Also called ministrokes, TIAs occur when anything temporarily blocks blood flow to the brain. The blockage in blood flow to the brain that causes a TIA and its symptoms last a short period of time. Due to their temporary nature, TIAs are also called warning strokes.
- Ischemic Stroke: An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot prevents blood flow to the brain, with the clot most likely forming from fatty deposits in the inner lining of blood vessels. A small section of these deposits can break off and block blood flow to the brain, much like a heart attack blocks blood flow to a part of the heart. These strokes can also be embolic, meaning that a blood clot in another part of the body travels and blocks blood flow to the brain.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke: Hemorrhagic stroke happens if a blood vessel within the brain breaks, spilling blood into the area surrounding the rupture.
To improve the chances of a positive patient outcome, stroke recovery must begin immediately after it happens. Stroke recovery may involve several possible treatment methods. Depending on the severity of the stroke and the symptoms a patient suffers from, it can be a combination of various therapies, including:
- Constraint-induced therapy
- Mobility training
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Range of motion therapy
- Speech therapy for motor skills
A stroke can cause various physical and mental impairments. The combination of treatment methods for stroke depends on the symptoms a patient suffers from.
Treating a stroke is possible, and around 10% of people who have a stroke can have a full recovery without any deficits. Around 25% of all stroke patients statistically recover with a few permanent impairments, while around 40% recover with moderate to substantial impairments requiring specialized care. 10% of stroke patients require lifelong specialized care, while 15% die shortly after.
Recovering from a stroke may take several weeks, months, or years. Many stroke patients live with lifelong disabilities, while some may recover completely. Due to physical and mental impairments, life after a stroke can be challenging. Depending on the severity, physical impairment can also lead to dysphagia, which is a problem in swallowing food. For some patients, cognitive impairment can lead to inability to perform activities of daily living, and inabilities to effectively communicate with loved ones. Due to depression, some recovering stroke patients may also require mental health treatment.
In terms of regaining communication skills, speech therapy is critical to recovering from a stroke. A speech therapist may help a stroke patient recover their speech through exercises that include repeating words, following directions, reading, and writing. They may also help rehearse speech, offer conversational coaching, and develop prompts to help patients remember specific words.
Informing stroke patients and their families of information regarding stroke recovery can be critical to improving patient outcomes. Patient education is essential to your role as a nurse. To be better equipped to help patients, you must also pursue nursing continuing education courses relevant to your areas of interest.
If the time to renew your nursing license is near, online nursing CEUs like those offered by Fast CE For Less at www.fastceforless.com can help you access a flexible, affordable, and comprehensive solution to renew your credentials.