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Stroke Awareness

The Nurse’s Role in Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

In recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month, we asked stroke expert Kathryn Funk, MSN-RN, about the role of nurses in rehabilitative care of the post-stroke patient.

Kathryn Funk, MSN-RN

What should stroke patients know when considering rehabilitative care?

Not every patient goes to an acute rehab facility for intensive care. Many patients receive home therapy or outpatient therapy. There are also different types of therapy that a stroke patient might receive. In addition to speech, physical, or occupational therapy, some patients might also have the options of cognitive or vestibular therapy. Additionally, some patients might qualify for cardiac or pulmonary rehab, based upon their preexisting risk factors.

What are a few of the most important things that stroke patients need from their nurses?

Patients look to nurses as their source of information. Not only do nurses provide care and medication, we provide comfort and reassurance. We need to prepare patients for what to expect at the next level of care.

What programs can neurology nurses get involved with to help advance their quality of patient care?

For neurology nurses, I highly recommend joining nursing organizations and seeking certifications specific to their role. The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) has been a great resource for me throughout the years. AANN offers webinars and guidelines for care, as well as producing a monthly magazine with cutting-edge research and informational articles. I am also a member of the Stroke ListServ, where I am able to connect with nurses throughout the country. The American Board of Neuroscience Nurses offers certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse.

What do you recommend neurology nurses keep in mind when treating a stroke patient?

Our patients had a whole lifetime before seeing us ,and our goal is to ensure that they have a successful life after they leave us. What we say and do in those few short days or hours with our patients are important to successful recovery and rehabilitation. It is important for nurses to advocate that their patients are treated with speech, occupational and physical therapy while hospitalized to ensure that they receive the opportunity to reach maximum recovery following a stroke.

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