Stroke Recovery

Stroke Recovery

Stroke Recovery

The Stroke Program at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offers state-of-the-art care for stroke patients and their families. The goal of the Stroke Program is to help you return to a quality life outside the hospital as soon as possible by providing and coordinating needed therapies.

Diagnostic tests

Most patients spend two days on the stroke unit. Depending on your condition, this stay may be shorter or longer. While in the stroke unit, you will be connected to a heart monitor and a pulse oximeter, which monitors blood oxygen levels. Your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and temperature), fluid intake and urine output will also be monitored.

Medication and fluids will be given through an intravenous (IV) line. Routine lab tests (via blood draws) will be taken. If you are unable to clear secretions from your mouth, you will be given a suction catheter at the bedside. Thigh-high stockings and a compression device (to improve circulation in your feet and legs and to prevent blood clots) will be necessary.

The Stroke Program team* will be available to explain and prepare you for tests, procedures and blood draws. These procedures help find the cause of the stroke and help the Stroke Program team decide on the best course of treatment. These tests include:

  • Routine lab tests (via blood draw)
  • CT scan of the head
  • Chest X-ray
  • EKG
  • MRI/MRA (magnetic resonance imaging/angiography) of the head
  • Carotid doppler (ultrasound of the blood vessels of the neck)
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound of heart)

Once stable, you will be transferred to a general care neuroscience unit where vital signs will be monitored and work with the physical and occupational therapists will continue.

The Stroke Program uses a multidisciplinary approach to help you maximize your recovery. The team includes:

  • Attending physician: The attending physician specializes in neurology and is responsible for directing your medical care. If surgery is necessary, a neurosurgeon will be involved.
  • Clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners: Advanced practitioners have extensive training in caring for neuroscience/stroke patients.
  • Registered nurses: Our nurses are trained in caring for patients with neurologic problems and will work with you to set a plan for daily nursing care.
  • Research nurse clinicians: These nurses are responsible for coordinating care for patients involved in clinical research trials.
  • Speech-language pathologists (speech therapists): Speech therapists will work with you on a variety of skills, including speech, language, swallowing and cognition.
  • Physical therapists: Physical therapists will help you regain your large motor skills, such as strength, coordination, balance, endurance and functional mobility.
  • Occupational therapists: Occupational therapists work with you on movement, balance, sight and your ability to carry out tasks of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, etc.)
  • Pharmacists: Pharmacists work with the stroke team physicians and nurses to tailor and monitor patient medications. If you are placed on blood-thinning medications, pharmacists from the Anticoagulation Dosing Service will adjust medicine based on your blood levels.
  • Case management social workers: Social workers will work with you and your family to find and coordinate community services to help you return to a quality life outside the hospital. If needed, social workers coordinate home care services that include visiting nurses, physical and/or occupational therapy and medical equipment for rent or purchase.
  • Dietitian: A registered dietitian will work with you and your family to review diet histories and the necessity of a special diet (low fat, low salt, low cholesterol or a soft diet for patients with problems chewing or swallowing).
Legal Information

In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.