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Surviving a Stroke: Treatment and Recovery

Today's Medicine
Published: Oct. 22, 2019

 

If you suffer a stroke, receiving the proper treatment and rehabilitation as quickly as possible is absolutely key. Recovery begins immediately following a stroke.

 

Being stroke-ready

Methodist Hospital, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital are certified by the Joint Commission for the care and treatment of stroke, but the hospitals carry two different certifications. 

Methodist Hospital and Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospitals are certified Advanced Primary Stroke Centers. This designation shows that our stroke programs have met the critical elements of performance to achieve successful long-term outcomes for stroke patients. 

This certification is a result of a rigorous on-site review by The Joint Commission in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

"If a patient comes to Methodist for their stroke event, we have an acute stroke process in our emergency department with protocols that allow us to get imaging and labs done quickly. This is important as the medical team needs this information to make decisions on the care our patients need."

Pam Stout, MSN, RN, SCRN
Methodist Hospital Stroke Program Coordinator

Methodist Women’s Hospital is certified as Acute Stroke Ready. That means health care professionals will assess, treat and transfer stroke patients to an Advance Primary Stroke Center – often Methodist Hospital.

 

Types of strokes

The moment a patient comes to us for their care, we work to diagnose what type of stroke they are experiencing.

Ischemic strokes are the most common kind, making up 87% of cases. Ischemic strokes happen when a clot – whether a blood clot or a clot made up of fatty tissue from cholesterol plaque in the arteries – blocks a vessel supplying blood to the brain.

Patients who suffer ischemic strokes often do better than those who suffer hemorrhagic strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when there is bleeding on the brain, often from the rupture of an aneurysm caused by high blood pressure. 

While hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13 percent of strokes, they account for about 30 percent of deaths caused by stroke. Stroke is currently the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the fourth leading cause of death in Nebraska.
 

Treating a stroke

A patient who comes to the Methodist Emergency Department with an ischemic stroke within a 4 1/2 hour window of the onset of symptoms is given a drug called tPA. This drug works quickly to dissolve the clot and improve the blood flow. When given in time, tPA can save lives and reduce the long-term effects of a stroke.

Following treatment, a patient is transferred to the Methodist ICU to be watched for 24 hours. From there, a patient will go to the Methodist Neuro Unit, where physicians and staff work to find out what caused the stroke so we can help prevent it from happening again.
 

Rehab and recovery

After someone has a stroke, our team works on two things: rehabilitation and risk factor reduction. About 25 percent of people who have a stroke end up having a secondary stroke. Our goal is to prevent that second stroke from happening through education and lifestyle modification.

When it comes to rehabilitation, Methodist Hospital offers specialized physical, speech and occupational therapy. The Methodist Hospital Acute Rehabilitation Center works to help each patient recover independence and function to lead as productive a life as possible. 

Our specially trained rehab RNs, our physicians and our physical, occupational, speech and therapeutic recreation therapists provide one-on-one treatment three hours a day, five days per week.

We also focus on risk factor reduction. For many stroke patients, that can include:

  • Taking medications for high blood pressure
  • Taking medications for high cholesterol 
  • Changing diet 
  • Quitting smoking 
  • Being more active 
  • Controlling diabetes. 

If we can control those, then hopefully we can prevent a secondary stroke from happening.
 

Statewide Stroke Drill

Methodist Health System participated in a statewide stroke drill coordinated through the Nebraska State Stroke Task Force on Oct. 29 – World Stroke Day. Methodist will be conducting drills at three locations (Methodist Hospital, Methodist Fremont Health and Methodist Women’s Hospital) to demonstrate different tactics employed on a case-by-case basis to best address the patient needs by our expert care team. See how the drill unfolded at Methodist Hospital.

Pam Stout

About the Author:

As the Stroke Program Coordinator at Methodist Hospital, Pam Stout, MSN, RN, SCRN, has the opportunity to evaluate the care Methodist provides stroke patients and to continually look for ways to improve that care. 

"With 80 percent of strokes being preventable, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure patients are aware of their stroke risk factors and in recognition of the signs and symptoms of stroke," said Pam.  "As the stroke program coordinator, I have I am lucky enough to be able to participate in community wide education events to help spread awareness before a stroke occurs, as well as follow patients who experience a stroke from arrival through discharge."

See More Articles by Pam Stout