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Rehabilitation for Stroke

What is stroke rehabilitation?

Stroke rehab (rehabilitation) helps you regain as much independence and quality of life as possible. Rehab can help you physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually after stroke. It helps restore you to optimal health, functioning, and well-being.

The stroke rehab team

The stroke rehab team revolves around you and your family. The team helps set short- and long-term treatment goals for recovery. The team is made up of many skilled professionals, including:

  • Healthcare providers such as:

    • A neurologist. This is a doctor who treats conditions of the nervous system, such as stroke.

    • A physiatrist. This is a doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

    • Internists. These are doctors who specialize in internal medicine.

  • Rehab nurses

  • Physical therapists

  • Occupational therapists

  • Speech and language pathologists

  • Registered dietitians

  • Social workers

  • Chaplains

  • Psychologists, neuropsychologists, and psychiatrists

  • Case managers

The stroke rehab program

The outlook for people who've had a stroke is more hopeful than ever today. This is due to advances in both stroke treatment and rehab. Stroke rehab works best when you, your family, and the rehab staff work as a team. Family members learn about physical and mental changes caused by the stroke. They also learn how to help you become functional again.

Rehab medicine is designed to meet your specific needs. So each person's program is different. Treatment in stroke rehab programs may include:

  • Treating the basic disease and preventing complications

  • Treating the disability and improving function

  • Providing adaptive tools and changing the environment

  • Teaching you and your family, and helping you all to adapt to lifestyle changes

There are 5 main types of disabilities that stroke can cause:

  • Paralysis or problems controlling movement, such as walking, balance, or swallowing

  • Problems with your ability to feel touch, pain, temperature, or position. These are also called sensory disturbances.

  • Trouble using or understanding language

  • Thinking and memory problems

  • Emotional disturbances

Stroke rehab can help you recover from the effects of stroke. It can also help you relearn skills and find new ways to do things. Your goals depend on many things, including:

  • The cause, location, and severity of stroke

  • The type and degree of any impairments and disabilities from the stroke

  • Your overall health

  • Family and community support

Stroke rehab programs may include the following:

Patient need


Self-care skills, including activities of daily living (ADLs)

Feeding, grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, and sexual functioning

Mobility skills

Walking, transfers, and using a wheelchair

Communication skills

Speech, writing, and other methods of communication

Cognitive skills

Memory, concentration, judgment, problem solving, and organizational skills

Socialization skills

Interacting with others at home and in the community

Vocational training

Work-related skills

Pain management

Medicines and alternative methods of managing pain

Psychological testing

Identifying problems and solutions with thinking, behavioral, and emotional issues

Family support

Assistance with adapting to lifestyle changes, financial concerns, and discharge planning


Patient and family education and training about stroke, medical care, and adaptive methods

Choosing a rehab facility

Rehab services are provided in many different settings, including:

  • Acute care and rehab hospitals

  • Subacute facilities

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Outpatient rehab facilities

  • In the home by home health agencies

When looking for rehab facilities and services, some questions to ask include:

  • Does my insurance company have a preferred rehab provider that I must use to qualify for payment of services?

  • What is the cost, and will my insurance company cover all or part of the cost?

  • How far away is the facility and what is the family visiting policy?

  • What are the admission criteria?

  • What are the qualifications of the facility? Is the facility accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities ?

  • Has the facility handled treatment for this type of condition before?

  • Is therapy scheduled every day? How many hours a day?

  • What rehab team members are available for treatment?

  • What type of patient and family education and support is available?

  • Is there a healthcare provider on site 24 hours a day?

  • How are emergencies handled?

  • What type of discharge planning and assistance is available?

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Fetterman RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Deepak Sudheendra MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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