Stroke Recovery Requires a Whole-body Approach

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When a loved one suffers a stroke, his or her family face many questions. How bad was the stroke? How much damage was done and how much is permanent? How long will recovery take? What kind of therapy is available? The problem is that so few of these questions can be answered quickly and there are so many variables in play. Immediate trauma is handled by neurologists, neurophysiologists, neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons, vascular neurologists, but there is no cookie cutter approach to stroke recovery. This is where a stroke specialist in New York comes in.

The need for physiatrists

Individuals require specific approaches to recovery depending on their number of and types of symptoms, such as reduced cognitive function, partial or full loss of vision, muscle weakness and paralysis, speech and communication issues, and eating challenges. These are best handled by physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialists, also known as physiatrists. Physiatrists are very well-trained stroke specialist New York. Typically, they have completed four years of medical school and four years of residency, after which they are certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. PM&R specialists approach patient care holistically, not just focusing on a condition or collection of symptoms. This rehabilitation format is ideal for stroke victims looking for a return of muscular, ligament and nervous system function.

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Patients need more than physical therapy

PM&R specialists do not limit their practice to just physical patient care. They also focus on a patient’s emotional, personal and social wellbeing. This is important as patients often deal with more than just physical pain. Confusion, frustration and even self-loathing are common as a patient begins rehabilitation, and the depth of injuries and time and effort needed for recovery come clear. Loss of cognitive function may result in behavioral and emotional changes, as well, which puts pressure on social and family relationships. Inability to communicate due to speech and motor function deficits as well as the inability to remember or “find” words and names can cause more complications. Physiatrists engage these issues as part of their whole-body approach.

Team approach to stroke recovery

A team of professionals is needed to cover the breadth and complexity of issues facing a stroke patient. Physiatrists gather and oversee such teams of professionals, which often include physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, nutritionists, massage therapists, personal trainers and even social workers. Just as a physiatrist takes a whole-body approach to patient care, these specialists combine care to reduce patient pain, provide structure and support, and improve the quality of life for patients; both those who recover fully, as well those with permanent impairment.

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