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SPEECH THERAPISTS (SLPs) HELP AFTER A STROKE
As we age the chances of suffering a stroke increase. A "stroke" (or a lesser stroke - sometimes called a TIA [Transient Ischemic Attack]) -causes temporary or permanent brain damage after bleeding or hypoxia. A hemorraghic stroke means that there has been a brain bleed, an ischemic stroke means that there has been lack of oxygen to the brain due to a clot.
Read on to find out more about care during and after a stroke, and have speech language pathologists (speech therapists) help.
STROKES CAUSE BRAIN INJURY
A stroke creates a temporary or permanent brain injury. Several parts of your brain may be affected. Deficits in speech, language, memory, attention, and swallowing may occur after stroke. In hospitals and in out-patient therapy, speech language pathologists (SLPs) treat these symptoms while working with a team of other medical professionals.
WHAT DOES A STROKE LOOK LIKE?
The following link will bring you to the American Heart Association description. Click here to learn about acting F.A.S.T. if you suspect someone is having a stroke. F (facial drooping), A (Arm Weakness (or leg weakness), S (Speech difficulty), T (Time to call 911).
Speech Language Pathologists are licensed in the state of New Jersey to provide evaluation and therapy for the issues that occur after a stroke. They will evaluate and provide a differential diagnosis and help set goals for the patient to work towards. Family should always be consulted when goals are being set.
If Medicare is the insurance type SLPs practice under the "direction" of your Medicare physician. The doctor is sent evaluations and progress notes. This may help to ensure a higher level of care for the patient.
WHAT CARE SHOULD A STROKE VICTIM RECEIVE?
1. Emergency hospital admission
Get the stroke victim to a hospital immediately. Medicine called TPA can dissolve clots in the brain and help the patient not suffer long term disability. These medicines must be administered within a certain time period (several hours) since the onset of the stroke.
When symptoms warrant, hospitals immediately institute a "stroke protocol" which includes multiple tests. CAT scans and MRIs are common.
3. Admission to Acute Care at the hospital
Someone found to have suffered a stroke may be admitted to a hospital acute care setting. They will be given rest and after they have stabilized may be evaluated by the Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, a Neurologist and others.
After discharge from acute care (in days or weeks after the stroke) the patient may be admitted to an in-patient acute rehabilitation hospital. In our area The Kessler Institute, JFK Rehabilitation Hospital and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute provide daily intensive rehabilitative care.
The patient may receive further care by going to the "sub-acute" rehabilitation area in the hospital or to a "sub-acute" care hospital where they continue to receive therapy and work toward goals.
Thereafter a patient may finally return home from the hospital. At this point patients often receive a short period of home-based therapy. This therapy is useful to re-aclimate them to their homes and address concerns for safety and function in this environment.
Finally a patient may engage in "Out-patient" therapy. They may do so by finding a private practitioner (such as Morris Speech Therapy) or may go back to the hospital to the "out-patient" department.
* Note: A commonly used rule of thumb is that stroke patients make the fastest gains in the first year after stroke. Hence it is very important to have intensive therapy during this time. However, because our brains have "neuroplasticity" it is now understood that continued gains can be made when therapy is conducted at an intensive enough level to produce a change. So, even in patients several years post stroke, improvements may be seen with therapy. This therapy would be conducted on an "out-patient" basis.