The onset of stroke is a dramatic and discouraging event both for the person having the stroke and their family. A person may go from complete independence to complete dependence in a matter of minutes. Upon entering the medical system, patients are confronted with a bewildering array of tests, people, and places, as well as confusion about treatment and services.
Medical care for stroke survivors is often fragmented and inconsistent. In some cases the patient is moved quickly from the acute hospital to a skilled nursing facility or an inpatient rehab department for rehabilitation. In urban areas, care may be more comprehensive and organized, but in many other areas followup care can be hit or miss.
Advances in acute treatment are saving the lives of people who would not have survived in the past. As a result, post stroke therapy is more important than ever. Yet access to services and inconsistencies in healthcare professional knowledge about how the brain heals after a stroke mean only a small percentage of stroke survivors are able to access the latest information, equipment, and techniques.
Nursing and rehabilitation professionals play a critical role in the care of the person with a stroke. We all play a role in improving outcomes through education, training, and knowledge about the physical and psychological effects of stroke. It is our responsibility to become familiar with the roles and responsibilities of each profession involved with post stroke care, as well to keep up with the astounding advances in the emergency, acute, and long-term treatment of people who have had a stroke.