[googlefont font=”Open Sans” size=”18px” margin=”10px 0 20px 0″]Stroke rehabilitation takes place in various settings with multiple providers [/googlefont]

Recommendations released for physicians, nurses and allied health professionals reinforce that stroke rehabilitation is not limited to a single location but is an ongoing process that includes a range of activities in many settings taking place over months or years.

Taking a more holistic approach to stroke rehabilitation as being available ‘anywhere, anytime’ this updated set of recommendations emphasizes all components of dedicated stroke rehabilitation services from rehabilitation units to outpatient clinics and programs in the community.

“Stroke rehabilitation is a progressive, dynamic, goal-oriented process that works to restore neurological deficits occurring as a consequence of a stroke. Rehabilitation should begin immediately after a stroke and involves interdisciplinary teams working together to maximize the individual’s recovery,” says Dr. Robert Teasell, Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Schulich School of Medicine, Western University in London, and senior writer, Stroke Rehabilitation Writing Group. “Rehabilitation continues after the patient leaves hospital to ensure the patient achieves maximal recovery and is successfully reintegrated back into the community.”

The recommendations also highlight the need for an increase in early-supported discharge which allows patients to return to their previous living setting as early as possible, where appropriate. The significant benefits to this approach include better quality of life for the patient and decreased burden on the health care system.

Recent reports on the quality of stroke rehabilitation and recovery services reveal considerable variation in availability and access across Canada and within provinces. A critical component to stroke rehabilitation and recovery is access to specialized stroke services.

“The evidence supporting the positive impact that rehabilitation plays in stroke recovery is both strong and growing. However, the key is the availability and accessibility to critical rehabilitation programs and services. On a system level there continues to be many gaps in terms of people being able to access timely and intensive rehabilitation in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Rehabilitation should clearly be an area of focused uptake for stroke care best practices as it will result in significant gains for both patients and the health system,” says Mark Collison, Director, Advocacy & Stakeholder Relations, Heart and Stroke Foundation, BC & Yukon.

Rehabilitation crosses all settings of care, and a broad range of providers and caregivers, often including families and other informal caregivers. The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s recently released 2013 Stroke Report highlighted the important role of family caregivers in the stroke recovery process. The report revealed that half of Canadians are directly touched by stroke and even more striking, that one in five Canadians have been involved in the support and care of a stroke survivor.

The new recommendations which were released as updates to the Rehabilitation chapter of the Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care also include new sections around life functions such as driving, family relationships, return to work or school, and communications issues.

The updated Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care chapters are posted at www.strokebestpractices.ca and will be widely disseminated in the Canadian health-care community. The recommendations provide evidence-based guidelines for the prevention and management of stroke and are updated on a rotating cycle every two years.

The Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care is a joint initiative of the Canadian Stroke Network and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

There are about 50,000 strokes in Canada every year and 315,000 people living with the after-effects of stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability and a leading cause of death. Learn more by visiting www.heartandstroke.ca.