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Care team

  • While undergoing diagnosis or treatment for stroke, patients may encounter these medical professionals.

    Stroke neurologist

    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 neuroradiologist

    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.

    Hospitalist

    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 medicine doctor.

    Physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor (physiatrist or PM&R)

    A 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 survivors.

    Physician assistant and nurse practitioner

    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. 

    Nurse

    Nurses 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 therapist

    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 therapist

    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 therapist

    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.

    Social worker

    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 financial questions.

    Registered dietitian

    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. 

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