Hospital Stay Expectations 

  • Your Healthcare Team
  • Your Stroke Rehabilitation Goals While In The Hospital

Your Healthcare Team

Depending on where you live, your healthcare team may consist of the following specialists:

Primary care physician (PCP): This doctor is trained in general medicine, family practice or internal medicine. In addition, some people see nurse practitioners as their PCP. While a PCP can evaluate and treat stroke, he or she may refer you to a neurologist for stroke-specific care.

Neurologist: This doctor is trained in conditions affecting the brain, including stroke.

Nurse practitioner: An Advanced Practice Nurse who can provide high-quality care and treatment to patients. They can diagnose and treat a variety of health problems and inform patients about lifestyle changes that can improve their health.

Physician assistant: Health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. They perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures.

Physical therapist (PT): A PT uses exercises and physical manipulation of your body to help restore movement, balance and coordination.

Occupational therapist (OT): An OT focuses on the therapeutic use of everyday activities to help you develop, recover, and improve skills needed for daily living and working.

Speech therapist (SLP): SLP's helps you relearn language and communications skills and focuses on swallowing problems.

Dietitian/nutritionist: This professional helps you make dietary changes, such as losing weight and managing blood sugar that will reduce your stroke risk factors.

Smoking cessation expert: If you smoke and want to quit, your PCP can help you. In addition, smoking cessation groups and classes can help. Once you quit your stroke risk declines.

Nurse: Nurses can answer questions about your treatment plan. They can advise you on how to follow your doctor's recommendations and help you get the assistance you need.

Physiatrist (rehabilitation specialist): This medical doctor considers both your medical condition and your physical impairments to develop a treatment plan aimed at restoring maximum function.

Psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist: Feeling angry, anxious or depressed after a stroke is normal. A mental health professional can help you cope.

Social worker: Need help with meals, getting to your doctor or navigating health insurance issues? A social worker can help you find solutions.

Neurosurgeon/vascular surgeon: This doctor specializes in medical procedures and surgeries that can help prevent stroke, treat acute stroke, or repair vascular damage or malformations in the brain.


Your Goals While In the Hospital

Depending on where you live, your stroke rehabilitation will begin soon after you enter the hospital. Before you begin your rehabilitation, your doctor's will address the following issues:

  • Stabilize your medical condition
  • Control life-threatening conditions
  • Prevent another stroke
  • Limit any stroke-related complications

You will participate in up to 3 hours of active therapy services a day, 5-6 days a week while in the hospital. Your healthcare team will focus on some or all of these rehabilitative goals while you are in the hospital:

  • You may learn to use mobility aids, such as a walker, canes, or ankle brace
  • You may learn how to use a wheelchair and safety transfer to and from the wheelchair
  • You may learn how to transfer in and out of bed, get on and off the toilet, and get in and out of the shower using equipment.
  • You may learn basic self-care such as bathing, grooming, and dressing yourself
  • You may receive a hand splint/orthotics for your affected arm to promote safety positioning and prevent joint pain
  • You may learn about strategies to communicate your needs
  • You may learn about techniques to eat and drink safely to prevent choking
  • You might learn strategies to compensate for vision changes after your stroke
  • You may learn strategies to compensate for cognitive changes after your stroke
  • Your family/friends or caregivers will learn how to best support you after discharge from the hospital

Before you leave, you and your family will work with your healthcare team to determine the best rehabilitation setting. Factors to consider include your needs, what insurance will cover, and what is most convenient for you and your family.

Reference: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Page last updated: 10/2020