The New Jersey Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospital
There is still a lot that we don’t know about how the brain compensates for the damage caused by stroke. Some brain cells may be only temporarily damaged, not killed, and may resume functioning. In some cases, the brain can reorganize its own functioning. Sometimes, a region of the brain "takes over" for a region damaged by the stroke. Stroke survivors sometimes experience remarkable and unanticipated recoveries that cannot be explained. General recovery guidelines show:
- 10 percent of stroke survivors recover almost completely
- 25 percent recover with minor impairments
- 40 percent experience moderate to severe impairments requiring special care
- 10 percent require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
- 15 percent die shortly after the stroke
These statistics are certain to improve with the proliferation of new treatment options.
Depending on the severity of the stroke, post-treatment options include:
- A rehabilitation unit in the hospital
- A subacute care unit
- A rehabilitation hospital
- Home with in-home therapy
- Home with outpatient therapy
- A long-term care facility that provides therapy and skilled nursing care
The goal in rehabilitation is to improve function so that the stroke survivor can become as independent as possible. This must be accomplished in a way that preserves dignity and motivates the survivor to relearn basic skills that the stroke may have taken away — skills like eating, dressing and walking.
The primary means of rehabilitation include:
Physical therapy (PT). This helps restore physical functioning and skills like walking and range of movement. Major impairments that PT works on include partial or one-sided paralysis, faulty balance and foot drop.
Occupational therapy (OT). This involves relearning the skills needed for everyday living such as eating, toileting, dressing and taking care of oneself.
Speech & Audiology Therapy. This assists stroke survivors experiencing problems with communication, swallowing or hearing.