While undergoing diagnosis or treatment for stroke, patients may
encounter these medical professionals.
A neurologist is a doctor who can diagnose and treat diseases of the
brain and nervous system; a stroke neurologist has additional training related
to stroke care. He or she works with the patient to determine the cause of the
stroke, risk factors and the most appropriate treatment.
Interventional neuroradiologists specialize in minimally invasive,
image-based technologies used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the
head, neck and spine. These specialists guide catheters into the arteries of
the brain to treat aneurysms or stroke.
A hospitalist is a primary care doctor in charge of coordinating inpatient
medical care. This doctor may be a family medicine doctor or an internal
doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation may also be
involved in stroke patient care. Physiatrists specialize in restoring optimal
function to people with injuries to the nervous system, such as stroke
These are midlevel providers who are licensed to practice medicine
in collaboration with the doctor. They may be part of the neurology, neurosurgery,
hospitalist or rehabilitation care teams in the hospital. They may also see patients
in clinic for other specialty needs, or be a member of the primary
care team once the patient is discharged from the hospital.
closely monitor vital signs and neurological status. They assess the stroke
patient’s ability to eat and swallow, move and transfer. Nurses also monitor patients
for any stroke related complications. They administer medications and
treatments as ordered by the doctor.
Physical therapists assess and treat problems with balance,
coordination, strength, walking and transfers (such as getting in and out of a
chair, bed or car). If a patient requires mobility aids such as canes, walkers
or wheelchairs, they help them learn how to use these to safely get around. A
physical therapist teaches balance and strength exercises and help patients
practice walking and transfers.
Occupational therapists look at the ability to perform daily
activities such as grooming, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, preparing
meals and eating. They also evaluate and treat any stroke related problems such
as problems with vision, thinking skills, memory, judgment or safety issues.
The occupational therapist helps patients regain strength and coordination in their
arms and hands, if needed.
Speech therapists assess and treat any swallowing problems to
ensure that it is safe for patients to eat and drink. If there is difficulty
with swallowing, the speech therapist may recommend changes to food or drink.
They also assess and treat any difficulties with speaking or understanding what
is said, plus the ability to read and write. The speech therapist may work in
conjunction with an occupational therapist to treat any problems with thinking
skills, such as attention span, problem solving and memory skills.
The social worker assists patients and families with any discharge
needs, such as changes to the living environment. There may be a need for additional
therapy and treatment after discharge. This may occur in a rehabilitation
facility, transitional care unit, nursing home or in the home through home
care. The social work can assist in setting up these services if they are
needed. The social worker can also help address any of your insurance or
A registered dietitian follows nutritional needs by monitoring
fluid intake, caloric intake, weight and blood work as needed. They provide
education on dietary changes that may help prevent additional strokes.