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
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.