Strokes occur in more than 795,000 in the United States each year, killing about 130,000. Survivors have an increased risk for long-term disability and face challenges completing daily activities.
Rehabilitation is a crucial component of care following a stroke. At top stroke centers some form of rehabilitation begins virtually immediately after a patient is admitted to the hospital — to get them on the right path to the best possible outcomes.
However, there are several things patients can do to ensure they are maximizing their recovery starting the second they suspect a stroke. Here are 10 tips:
1. Seek urgent care immediately.
It is absolutely critical to seek emergent care when a stroke is suspected. Patients who arrive at the emergency department within 3 hours of their first symptoms tend to have less disability months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.
We at NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Stroke Care Center are fortunate to have recently opened the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Service, which serves as the first line of urgent care for patients that are suspected of having a stroke. A stroke alert prompts a team of experts from our center to come to a patient’s bedside within minutes to confirm or rule out a stroke, allowing treatment and rehabilitation to begin as soon as possible.
If you’re worried about clogging the emergency room or just want to wait things out, you could be delaying life-saving care.
2. Keep your medical information handy.
A stroke can affect parts of the brain responsible for cognition and communication, leaving a patient unable to tell a doctor their medical history. That can be worrisome, because some stroke treatments can’t’ be given with other medications.
I urge people to carry with them a patient health profile that lists their medical conditions and any medications they’re taking. This piece of paper carried in your wallet might contain vital information that doctors can use to ensure you’re on your way to an optimal recovery.
3. Choose a top care center for your rehabilitation.
Whenever possible, you want a patient to be involved in acute inpatient rehabilitation following a stroke. Data suggest the more acute, intensive rehabilitation you get after a stroke, the better the outcomes.
NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Stroke Care Center is a leading center of its type in our region and offers a sophisticated rehabilitation program that includes care from a rehabilitation physician (known as a physiatrist), physical therapist, occupational therapist, specialized nurses, speech-language pathologists and psychologists. Other facilities like nursing homes may provide adequate rehabilitation services, but the point here is to maximize recovery.