During your stroke recovery, you will receive help from a team of different specialists who all have their own area of expertise. Depending on your personal needs, you may need some of them but not all. Here’s a breakdown of what your rehab team could look like:
Meet your physiatrist, who specializes in rehabilitation. Your physiatrist is an expert on nerves, muscles, and bones and they specialize in treating injuries that affect how you move. While treating these injuries, they can help alleviate pain, restore maximum function, and provide non-surgical treatments.
Your neurologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, including stroke. During your stroke recovery, a neurologist will be responsible for recommending any surgical treatments that are necessary, but they won’t be the one performing the surgery.
A rehabilitation nurse specializes in helping people with disabilities. Your rehab nurse will work with you and your family to create a recovery plan with short- and long-term goals to help you reach your full potential.
When it comes to movement, balance, strength, and exercise, your physical therapist is your greatest aid. Your physical therapist will diagnose any physical problems that restrict movement, and then they will help you develop a rehab exercise regimen to help increase strength and ease pain.
Practical movement specialist
Occupational therapists will focus more on helping you with self-care tasks like the activities of daily living (i.e. eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and continence). While your physical therapist treats your actual impairment, your occupational therapist will treat the impairment in action. For example, your physical therapist can help you regain strength in your wrist and then your occupational therapist will help you relearn how to use your wrist to properly brush your teeth again.
Your recreational therapist will help you improve physical and cognitive skills necessary to enjoy recreational activities again. Participating in enjoyable activities can help boost your recovery, and a recreational therapist is the man/woman for the job!
Whereas physical, occupational, and recreational therapists all focus on helping you regain movement, your neuropsychologist will help diagnose and treat any thinking, memory, and behavioral problems that resulted from the stroke.
Your speech-language pathologist will help you relearn language skills like talking, reading, and writing. Stroke survivors with aphasia will work closely with their speech-language pathologist, and those with swallowing problems can also benefit from the assistance of a speech-language pathologist.
A dietician will help you make healthy eating choices based on your specific needs. For example, if you have high blood pressure, then your dietician will help develop a low-sodium nutrition plan for you.
Your social worker will help you make decisions about rehab programs, insurance, living arrangements, and support services at home. Your social worker will work with you and your family to create arrangements for your continued recovery.
Treatment destination specialist
Your case manager will help make any necessary arrangements for your treatment. Your case manager will help facilitate any necessary inpatient care, coordinate care from different providers, and connect you with local services.
Now that you know what your rehab team specializes in, feel confident that you’re in good hands. And if you ever have a question, you know which specialist to ask.
You can also leave any questions that you have in the comments section below. We’ll be sure to get back to you!