ORHC Acute Rehab Unit Celebrates National Rehabilitation Awareness Week

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In-patient rehab is recommended over nursing homes for stroke rehab by American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

  • The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recently issued its first guidelines on adult stroke rehabilitation calling for intensive, multidisciplinary treatment.
  • Before leaving the hospital, patients and caregivers should receive a formal falls-prevention program to prevent accidents at home.
  • Whenever possible, initial rehabilitation should take place in an inpatient rehabilitation facility rather than a nursing home.

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association recently released guidelines for rehabilitation after a stroke.  The overall message seems to be that early and aggressive rehabilitation is key to impacting the survivor’s quality of life.

Whenever possible, the American Stroke Association strongly recommends that stroke patients be treated at an in-patient rehabilitation facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. While in an in-patient rehabilitation facility, a patient participates in at least three hours of rehabilitation a day from physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Nurses are continuously available and doctors typically visit daily. An in-patient rehabilitation facility may be a free-standing facility or a separate unit of a hospital.

This is good news for communities in SE Iowa.  Ottumwa Regional Health Center has a 13-bed Acute Rehabilitation Unit, the only inpatient unit of its kind in the area.  “Patients benefit from a team approach from a program that understands the importance of rehabilitation during the early period after a stroke,” said Robin Honomichl, Director of Ottumwa Regional Acute Rehabilitation Unit.

Coordination of care also includes education to those who will be caring for the stroke survivor after they go home. “We provide education about changes our patients and families can make at home to increase safety and reduce the risk of falls, such as throw rugs and insufficient lighting.  Devices that can assist the patient ‘s mobility such as walkers and wheelchairs are discussed as well as medications and how they affect balance.” Honomichl said. “We offer a comprehensive program that takes patients and their families from inpatient to home care and keeps them safe.”

Other recommendations from the Associations include:

  • Intense mobility-task training after stroke for all survivors with walking limitations to relearn activities such as climbing stairs.
  • Individually tailored exercise program so survivors can safely continue to improve their cardiovascular fitness through the proper exercise and physical activity after formal rehabilitation is complete.
  • An enriched environment (which might include a computer, books, music and virtual reality games) to increase engagement and cognitive activities during rehabilitation. There is not yet enough research to determine whether specific promising new techniques, such as activity monitors and virtual reality games, are effective at helping patients.
  • Speech therapy for those with difficulty speaking following a stroke.
  • Eye exercises for survivors with difficulty focusing on near objects.
  • Balance training program for survivors with poor balance, or who are at risk for falls.

“Our Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation Program offers all of these services.  We offer a coordinated effort and ongoing communication with our team of professionals,” said Honomichl. “ I’m very proud to say we have a comprehensive program of services for stroke rehabilitation close to home.”

 

Source:  American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Scientific Statement, May 4, 2016

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