Stroke — one of the top causes of disability in the United States — affects people of all ages. The Center for Stroke Rehabilitation at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers a multidisciplinary treatment plan focused on healing patients and helping them regain their independence after a stroke.

Physiatrist and stroke rehabilitation expert Jennifer Shen, MD, sat down with us to discuss the levels of expert care patients can expect at the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation.

Who Is Typically at Risk for Stroke?

Many people are affected by stroke — it’s very common. Most people think it occurs mainly in older people because they tend to have more risk factors —hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, or smoking. Depending on a person’s risk factors, stroke can affect anyone at any age.

Why Is Stroke Rehabilitation Important?

Inpatient stroke rehabilitation is important for both short-term and long-term recovery. It makes a huge difference in lowering the risk of medical complications, and getting patients back to their lives quickly and with a better quality of life.

Who and What Is Involved in Inpatient Stroke Rehab?

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During inpatient rehab, a multidisciplinary team puts together an individualized care plan for each patient. It includes specialists in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, and neuropsychology (if needed) who work together with a case manager, rehab nurse, and doctor. Stroke rehab is intense; it’s can last three hours a day and longer during the initial stages.

What Is the Ultimate Goal for Patients?

The ultimate goal is to maximize a stroke patient’s recovery. This includes educating and working with both patients and their families. The rehabilitation process varies, but it does take time. I often tell people when they leave inpatient rehab that they’re not done with their recovery. Oftentimes, we’ll have them continue with in-home health therapy as well as outpatient therapy, which may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy. We also have them follow up with their rehab doctor.

Why Is It Necessary to Follow Up With the Doctor After Discharge?

In stroke rehabilitation, following up with the rehab doctor is important for several reasons. This doctor typically is the one who has followed the patient through the continuum of care and knows their entire journey. It’s also important to monitor any medical issues like spasticity or depression that may arise after completing rehab. The rehab doctor is often the one most involved in giving a patient approval to return to work or resume driving .

Why Should Patients Choose UPMC for Inpatient Stroke Rehabilitation?

UPMC offers stroke-specific multidisciplinary rehab teams and experts who can address all aspects of care. These teams specialize in stroke recovery. It’s what they do day in and day out. They work together to achieve the best recovery possible for stroke patients. Returning patients to their lives is their passion.

To learn more about the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, please visit our website or call us at 1-877-287-3422.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.