Outpatient stroke rehab gets patients back to daily living and independence
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As one of the leading causes of long-term adult disability, workable solutions for stroke survivors and their families are a critical tool in the recovery and rehabilitation process. While rehabilitation following a stroke starts in the hospital as soon as a patient is stable, the long-term goal is to improve function so that the survivor can once again be as independent as possible.

“The outpatient program at Penrose is a multi-disciplinary program that works closely with the inpatient program,” Kristi Ecklund MPT, CBIS, Out-patient Rehabilitation Manager at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, said. “In addition to physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and neuropsychology, we provide a number of specialty programs as well such as vision therapy, fitness to drive, and more.”

Sometimes, the effects of a stroke may require patients to change, relearn or redefine daily living, and rehabilitation is one of the most important phases for returning patients to independent living.

“We have some very cutting-edge, state-of-the-art equipment to support patients’ rehabilitation,” Ecklund said. “For instance, an anti-gravity treadmill that enhances balance and strength; a harness system that helps control weight bearing, posture, and balance over a treadmill or the ground; electrical stimulation to invigorate muscles in a hemiparetic arm or leg. And we can provide objective data from this technology that shows the patient they are improving and making progress.”

While rehabilitation can’t reverse the effects of a stroke, it is necessary to help build strength and endurance, capability and confidence, and return patients to their optimum level of function and independence.

“Which area of the brain was affected by the stroke determines the type and extent of therapy needed,” Ecklund said. “If the right side of the brain was affected, the patient may suffer hemiparesis, or weakness/paralysis of the left side of the body. Sometimes speech and language are more affected.”

Penrose-St. Francis educates families on the different types of strokes and the causes of stroke, as well as prevention and ongoing health and wellness.

“We work together as a team with the doctors as well as the patient and their family to make everything as easy on the patient as we can,” Ecklund said. “Stroke changes the patient’s life in an instant, but it also changes their family’s lives.”

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services provides 24/7 advanced stroke treatment and was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.

“Once someone has suffered a stroke, they are more likely to have another stroke,” Ecklund said. “It’s frightening for the patients and their family, so extending our continuum of care on an outpatient basis to help them function in their home and get back to living their daily life, is significant.”


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