The Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care: 2013 Rehabilitation Update were recently released on the strokebestpractices.ca website.

The 2013 update of the Stroke Rehabilitation Chapter of the Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care reinforces the growing and changing body of research evidence available to guide assessment, diagnosis and management in the days, weeks and months following a stroke.

Key messages for 2013 and significant changes to previous recommendations include:

  • Rehabilitation and recovery after stroke is a dynamic and ongoing process that occurs in all settings and over time (days, weeks, months, years). Rehabilitation is NOT a setting, rather it is a set of activities, and begins soon after the initial stroke event, once the patient is medically stable and can identify goals for rehabilitation and recovery.
  • The evidence for rehabilitation continues to emerge and is strong and compelling.
  • It is time for both system funders and front-line clinicians to commit to improving the stroke rehabilitation system. Analyses suggest that investing in effective and efficient rehabilitation services could actually reduce costs of taking care of stroke patients.
  • The recommendation sections have been grouped into two parts: the first addressing organization of stroke rehabilitation within a system of care; the second part addressing specific areas of stroke recovery and direct clinical care.
  • The new sections of rehabilitation recommendations provide guidance for rehabilitation providers to ensure a holistic approach to the rehabilitation of the person with stroke by addressing their physical, functional, cognitive and emotional status to help them return to their normal life roles.
  • The recommendations continue to evolve with the evidence to guide clinicians in tailoring their treatment to the individual based on time post stroke, their impairments and their goals.
  • Family members and informal caregivers play a key role in post-stroke rehabilitation and recovery.
  • The section on Dysphagia, included in the Cross Continuum chapter in 2010, has now been included in the rehabilitation chapter so consolidate all post-stroke therapies in one area
  • * New sections have been developed for 2013 for visual perceptual deficits, communication issues, central pain, and major life roles (including vocational rehabilitation, return to driving, and sexuality and relationships). These sections further emphasize the need for a holistic approach to stroke rehabilitation.