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Stroke Day

The COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t reduce access to stroke rehabilitation

Thursday, October 29th is World Stroke Day and for the nearly 800,000 lives changed by stroke in the U.S. each year, rehabilitation offers a way to achieve the best possible recovery from a stroke. As a stroke survivor I know firsthand the importance of rehabilitation. When I was recovering from two strokes in January 2012, it was a long road and I couldn’t have done it without support from my family and therapists.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way healthcare is delivered, it’s important for stroke survivors to take advantage of the first three months after a stroke. A person may need therapy to learn to walk or talk again, re-learn skills needed to be independent and recover communications and cognition skills. For six months, I endured intense speech, occupational and physical therapy about six times a week. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some stroke patients may be going without rehab during this important ‘golden’ time.

The pandemic has required rehabilitation professionals to get creative to deliver essential therapies to stroke survivors. Sessions may be held via video calls or there may be enhanced collaboration with organizations providing in-home support and an increased emphasis on personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and patients at in-person visits.

The American Stroke Association provides recovery tips and resources for stroke survivors and their caregivers. Visit their website at https://www.stroke.org/en/life-after-stroke/stroke-rehab/recovery-resource-page-for-patients for the information.

This World Stroke Day, I encourage anyone who has had a stroke to continue to seek care and not to give up. The love and support I received by both my family and my therapists gave me hope.

Mark Dunham, Boise

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