Comprehensive Stroke Treatment, Rehabilitation Can Restore Quality of Life
As a Primary Stroke Center, Holy Cross Hospital has met or exceeded high standards of care that result in improved outcomes - and increased quality of life for patients. We deliver holistic care focused on the physical and emotional effects of stroke, as well as the impact a stroke can have on families, work and everyday activities.
The Stroke Care Team may include the following specialists, depending on a patient's needs.
- Stroke physicians
- A physical medical and rehabilitation physician
- A stroke nurse practitioner
- Critical care nurses
- Physical and occupational therapists
- A social worker
- A nutritionist
- A diabetes educator
- Home care specialist
Clot-Busting Therapy: Stroke care begins in the Emergency Center, where patients may receive acute stroke treatment that can minimize the disabling effects of stroke. Treatment may include interventional therapies used to break-up blood clots that form in the brain during stroke, and improve or restore blood flow to the brain.
Some patients are candidates for tPA therapy (tissue plasminogen activator). tPA is a "clot-busting" drug delivered intravenously to dissolve clots that occur during ischemic strokes, the most common type.
Interventional Neuroradiology Techniques: For some patients, intra-arterial tPA is an appropriate option for stroke clot removal following an ischemic stroke. In this procedure, a neuroradiologist makes a small incision in the femoral artery in the leg. Using 3-D images, he guides a catheter to the clot and delivers the medication.
Other patients who don’t receive care quickly enough for tPA may be candidates for a new stroke treatment approach, which uses a mechanical device to retrieve or break apart blood clots.
During these procedures, a neuroradiologist makes a small incision in an artery in the leg and inserts a catheter with the device. Using real-time 3-D images as a guide, he travels to the clot, which can then be aspirated or removed. To prevent a recurrent stroke, a stent may be placed in the blocked artery to keep blood flowing to the brain.
The technique can also be used for patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVM) or dural arterial venous fistulae. In this procedure, a liquid plastic is placed into the site and forms a barrier to block off the abnormal vessel.
Rehabilitation: Early in the treatment process, patients are evaluated by the physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. This specialist develops a recovery plan to help patients reach the highest level of functioning possible. The plan considers each patient's immediate needs and their long-term goals, and may include physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Patient Education: Patient education is also an important part of the recovery process. When needed, social workers, nutritionists and a diabetes educator will work with patients to reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Home Care: The Stroke Center also connects patients who require continued care and rehabilitation after they leave the hospital with outpatient therapy and home care.