The impact of a stroke is extensive and far-reaching, affecting many areas of people's lives. The medical impact is obvious, but what we may not realize is the emotional and psychological effect that a stroke can have on patients and their loved ones. Physical limitations are a common side effect, leaving patients dependent on others. Many times these limitations force them to leave jobs, and the burden of their care is placed on their family members.
Stroke care does not only consist of acute care when a patient is hospitalized, but also consists of the ongoing care following the stroke. The costs associated with stroke are enormous: whether they are financial, or social; whether they involve self-esteem issues, workplace issues, or quality-of-life issues.
Recovery and Preventing Strokes from Recurring
After stroke has occurred, patients and their families are concerned about preventing further strokes. As part of the recovery process, we try to determine what caused the stroke, so we can provide the medications and therapies that will try to minimize the chances of a stroke recurring in the future. Additional tests to determine the cause of the stroke may be necessary during the recovery time period.
A number of risk factors are associated with stroke; many of these are uncovered when the patient first comes to the Emergency Department. Preventive strategies may include smoking cessation, treatment for lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, and lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy, nutritious diet and exercising regularly.
Other preventive strategies may include using aspirin-like compounds in order to prevent further blood clots. If the patient also has a heart problem, other medications may be used to thin the blood.
Education and Support
Support groups and education are vital to the care process. Families need support and care as well, to cope with changing roles and to learn how to help the patient achieve the greatest independence and quality of life possible. Our Nurse Champions work with our patients and their families before discharge to educate them in follow-up care and in recognizing signs and symptoms of stroke. Social workers provide patients and families additional resources and help to integrate them back into their daily lives as quickly as possible. Support groups provide strength and empathy during a long recovery period.