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Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley – Leading Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery
By Kevin Brown

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and kills about 140,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Annually, about 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. Of these, about 610,000 are first, or new, strokes and 185,000 are recurrent strokes.

Stroke occurs when a blood clot cuts off blood supply to the brain, causing brain cells to die (ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts due to the weakening of the blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke), damaging brain cells. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage lasting five minutes or less.

Symptoms and Causes
Symptoms of stroke can be identified using the FAST method. Is there Facial drooping, often around the mouth? Is there Arm weakness or the inability to raise one or both arms? Is Speech difficult to understand or produce? If one or more of these symptoms are present, Time is of the essence in seeking emergency medical help. Dangerous and potentially life-threatening, stroke should always be treated as a critical medical emergency.

Leading causes of stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, unmanaged diabetes, obesity and smoking. Controlling these conditions can help to prevent stroke, or a recurrence of stroke. Uncontrollable risk factors include heredity, age, gender, and ethnicity.

Importance of Rehabilitation
For those who survive a stroke, recovery can be a long and difficult process. Stroke can mildly to dramatically affect abilities to perform everyday tasks like talking, dressing, swallowing and walking, creating the need to relearn or redefine how the patient lives. Stroke rehabilitation is designed to help the patient adjust to these physical and mental challenges. Rehabilitation with skilled professionals can reduce the recovery time and vastly improve the patient’s ability to return to as full a functioning state as possible.

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley, formerly known as HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley, is a regional leader in stroke recovery and rehabilitation and offers a complete Joint Commission stroke-certified inpatient rehabilitation program for patients recovering from a stroke.

Advantages of Inpatient Rehabilitation
In an article entitled “Did you know these five facts about stroke rehabilitation?” by Encompass Health physician Richard Senelick, M.D., he notes the following advantages of an inpatient rehabilitation hospital like Encompass Health Sewickley over a skilled nursing facility.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) recommend in their 2016 “Guidelines for Adult Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery” that adult stroke patients receive intensive, multidisciplinary treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital.

Patients at a skilled nursing facility typically receive one to two hours of therapy a day, while patients at Encompass Health Sewickley receive at least three hours of therapy five days per week from a team of nurses, therapists and physicians who create a care plan to help patients achieve their goals.

Following medical treatment in a hospital, stroke patients are often discharged to a skilled nursing facility or an inpatient rehabilitation facility for continued recovery and rehabilitation. Patients and their families may not be aware that they can choose the facility to which they are discharged. Dr. Senelick encourages patients and families to visit the facilities and ask the following questions: Will a rehabilitation doctor see the patient? Do they have all the necessary team members—physician, speech language pathologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, dietitians, specialized rehabilitation nurses and more—on site? How many hours of therapy per day will the patient receive? Are the nurses certified in rehabilitation? What percentage of the facility’s stroke patients are discharged back to their homes?

Daily treatment of at least three hours of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy is associated with better functional gains than those who received less than three hours per day, according to a 2013 study by Dr. Hua Wang. Skilled nursing facilities do not supply three hours of therapy a day.

Social and cognitive stimulation in an enriched environment after a stroke may enhance recovery, according to a study published in the medical journal Clinical Rehabilitation. At an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, such as Encompass Health Sewickley, this environment may include: less time alone in bed in their room; state-of-the-art gyms with the latest technology; group therapy that provides education, emotional support and opportunities for communication; communal dining; and family involvement outside of therapy hours.

Bowel and bladder incontinence is one of the major reasons a patient may not go home after a stroke. (Cochrane Reports). At Encompass Health rehabilitation hospitals, specialized bowel and bladder programs are in place to help patients regain continence.

These five important advantages of an inpatient rehabilitation hospital as outlined by Dr. Senelick are vital to successful and long-term rehabilitation and recovery following a stroke.

For more information about Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley, visit encompasshealth.com/sewickleyrehab, or call Lisa Hopkins, OTR/L, Business Development Director, at 412-749-2211.

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