One day you can be tidying the kitchen, sweeping crumbs from the counter and chatting with your husband after dinner; the next, your hands can’t perform the same familiar tasks and stringing a few words into a sentence seems an insurmountable task.
A stroke can change life that quickly and that profoundly.
“When a stroke occurs, it disrupts blood supply to certain parts of our brain. These include areas that control our speech and strength to our arms and legs,” says S.M. Arshad Iqbal, MD, chief of neurology and director of the Stroke Center at Kent Hospital.
“For the resulting loss of function, rehabilitation is the most important tool we have at the current time. It improves and restores function to the damaged areas of the nervous system. It gives us the best chance to bring back our ability to live and function independently.
Home sweet home
While there are benefits to recovering from a stroke in a hospital or rehabilitation facility - and many patients spend weeks and even months in such a setting – being at home is a familiar and unique comfort. The Stroke After-Care Program, a unique collaboration between Kent and the VNA of Care New England, helps patients go home and continue receiving important care there.
“The return home can be a time of great joy and great anxiety as patients and their families prepare a new reality that may include impaired mobility and independence,” notes Jennifer F. Lee, MSPT, manager of rehabilitation services at the VNA of Care New England. “Home care therapists can address concerns that are specific to the patient in real time and work with patients and families to ensure a smooth, safe transition.”
Patients seen in the Stroke Center at Kent Hospital can be assessed for home transition through the Stroke After-Care Program and staff from the VNA devises a tailored care plan that draws on the VNA’s robust array of services, such as skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutrition, and medical social work.
“Ongoing rehab services in the home build upon the progress the patient has made and prepares him or her for community reintegration,” Lee explains. “Patients often experience a renewed progress as they practice activities such as transfers and walking in the familiar surroundings of their home.”
Continued therapeutic intervention is important so the patient does not lose functionality while staying safe, especially safe from falls.v “Our staff helps optimize patient safety and satisfaction by helping give medication, get the patient moving while monitoring for falls,” Lee says.
In stroke rehab, patients receive an intensive three hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy a day, five to seven days a week, according to their individual care plans. Each patient’s caregiver team meets weekly to discuss progress.
At the same time, the staff works with family members and caregivers of the patient, educating and training them to be actively involved in patient care and the rehab process.
“Family members are involved as much as they want to be,” explains Tina Barber, DPT, of the program. “They are allowed to visit any time to see how their family member is progressing in therapy. They are also taught transfer techniques if their loved one needs help at home.”
The benefit of such a collaborative service as the Stroke-After Care Program is increased communication between a team of caregivers and continuity of care from the inpatient environment to the patient’s home.
“This program provides a continuum of care from acute care/inpatient or acute rehab unit to the vna and outpatient setting,” Barber says. “This allows for excellent communication.”
For more information on the Stroke After-Care Program, call Lee at (401) 737-6050, ext. 1335.