Rehabilitation is designed to help stroke survivors become as independent as possible. It helps stroke survivors relearn the skills they lose as a result of brain damage. Another aspect of rehabilitation for stroke survivors involves teaching them how to compensate for any residual disabilities. Rehabilitation often begins 24 to 48 hours after the stroke at an acute-care hospital and may continue at inpatient, outpatient, or nursing facilities -- or at home.
An Overview of Stroke RehabilitationMore than 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States, and approximately two-thirds of these individuals survive and require rehabilitation. The goals of stroke rehabilitation are to help survivors become as independent as possible and to attain the best possible quality of life. Even though rehabilitation does not "cure" stroke in that it does not reverse brain damage, it can substantially help people achieve the best possible long-term outcome.
Rehabilitation helps stroke survivors relearn skills that are lost when part of the brain is damaged. For example, these skills can include coordinating leg movements in order to walk or carrying out the steps involved in any complex activity. Rehabilitation after a stroke also teaches survivors new ways of performing tasks to compensate for any residual disabilities.
Patients may need to learn how to bathe and dress using only one hand, or how to communicate effectively when their ability to use language has been compromised. There is a strong consensus among rehabilitation experts that the most important element in any stroke rehabilitation program is carefully directed, well-focused, repetitive practice -- the same kind of practice used by all people when they learn a new skill, such as playing the piano or pitching a baseball.