Content Map Terms

Stroke: Your Rehabilitation Team

British Columbia Specific Information

A stroke is a brain injury caused by blood flow to the brain being blocked, or bleeding in the brain. After having a stroke you may experience physical, mental and emotional complications. These could include: weakness on one side of the body, joint pain, trouble walking, speech and language difficulties, trouble with memory or focusing, etc. Stroke rehabilitation programs can help you continue to live as independently as possible after a stroke, and to learn to adjust to the physical and mental changes caused by your stroke.

To find stroke recovery and rehabilitation programs in your area, search HealthLinkBC's FIND Services and Resources Directory. For more information on stroke recovery, visit Heart and Stroke Foundation or Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia.

For more information on exercising to prevent a stroke or rehabilitation exercises after a stroke, call 8-1-1 to speak with a qualified exercise professional Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm PST. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Topic Overview

Rehabilitation after a stroke usually involves a number of health professionals. These may include the following people.

Doctors and nurses

  • Rehabilitation doctor. The rehabilitation doctor is in charge of your medical care after a stroke. This may be a physiatrist (a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation), a neurologist, or a primary care doctor.
  • Rehabilitation nurse. A rehabilitation nurse specializes in nursing care for people with disabilities. He or she can provide nursing care and helps doctors coordinate medical care. A rehabilitation nurse can also educate both you and your family about recovering from a stroke.

Rehabilitation therapists

  • Physiotherapist. A physiotherapist evaluates and treats problems with movement, balance, and coordination. The physiotherapist can provide you with training and exercises to improve walking, getting into and out of bed or a chair, and moving around without losing your balance. The physiotherapist also teaches your family members how to help with exercises and how to help you move or walk, if needed.
  • Occupational therapist. An occupational therapist helps you relearn skills that you lost as a result of your stroke. He or she may have you do exercises and practice activities so that you can learn to do the things you could before, such as eating, bathing, dressing, writing, or cooking. You may not be able to do these activities the same way as before, so the therapist may teach you new ways to do them.
  • Speech-language therapist. A speech-language therapist can help you get back your language skills and learn other ways to communicate. The speech-language therapist may teach your family members how to improve communication with you as well. Speech-language therapists also work with people who have swallowing problems caused by a stroke.
  • Recreational therapist. A recreational therapist can help you return to activities that you enjoyed before the stroke, such as playing cards, gardening, bowling, or doing church and community activities. Recreational therapy can help you practice and relearn physical activities and thinking skills needed for activities you like.

Professional counsellors

  • Social worker. A social worker can help you and your family make decisions about rehabilitation and plan your return home or to a new living place. He or she can help you and your family answer questions about insurance and other financial issues and can help you with a variety of support services. Social workers also provide or arrange for counselling to help cope with emotional adjustments after a stroke.
  • Licensed counsellor or psychologist. A professional counsellor or a psychologist can provide counselling to help you or your family members adjust and cope after a stroke. Counsellors may use interviews and tests to identify and understand where you are having trouble. They may help you with thinking or memory problems or may work with other professionals to help you.

Other health professionals

  • Orthotist. An orthotist can fit you with special braces, splints, or footwear that help with movement, correct deformity, and relieve pain.
  • Dietitian. A dietitian can help you plan a balanced diet during rehabilitation. You may need a special diet if you have swallowing problems. The dietitian may also educate your family about helping you stay on a healthy diet after you leave the rehab program.
  • Vocational counsellor. A vocational counsellor can help you find a job or get back to work after a stroke.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Winstein CJ, et al. (2016). Guidelines for adult stroke rehabilitation and recovery: A guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, published online May 4, 2016. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000098. Accessed June 3, 2016.

Credits

Current as of:
March 4, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Richard D. Zorowitz MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation