You are the most important person in your recovery journey. As much as possible, you should be involved in setting goals and planning your recovery.

When you have a stroke, a team of healthcare providers works with you, your family and your caregivers, to:

  • help you recover from or adapt to the changes caused by stroke
  • teach you about stroke, its effects and strategies to use in daily life.

Get to know each team member and their role in supporting you in your recovery. Start a recovery journal. Keep a list of names, roles and ways to contact them in your recovery journal.

Your role working with the team

You, your family and your caregivers are at the centre of your stroke recovery team. Teams usually meet regularly. Ask when they will be meeting to discuss your care. Make sure you are included. If you are not up to it, have your care partner or a family member attend on your behalf.

Overcoming language barriers

Translation services are available in many healthcare settings in Canada. If needed, ask what is available to you.

What to tell the team

Help the team get to know you by sharing information about:

  • Your background: What kind of work you do and your hobbies.
  • Your living situation: Do you live in a house, apartment or condo? Are you in a city, town or rural community?
  • The support available to you: Do you live alone or with a spouse or friend? What kind of supports are in your community? Do you have access to phone and internet services? How are your finances?
  • Your needs and goals: In the short term, do you want to focus on daily tasks, like bathing on your own? In the longer term, do you want to go back to work? Travel?

Keeping a recovery journal

Most of us remember only a small part of what we are told in healthcare team meetings. So go prepared. Make a list of the questions you want to ask — some suggested questions are listed further below in this section. Make notes of each meeting — who was there, what was discussed and what the next steps will be. Keep your notes in a journal of your recovery journey.

Bring someone with you to meetings who can take notes and help you to remember and understand what happened at the meeting.

Keep a calendar of all your appointments, meetings and tests in your recovery journal.

Team members and their roles

The makeup of your stroke care team will depend on your needs and the healthcare providers available in your community. You may not meet all of the specialists in this list.

Neurologists are experts on conditions involving the brain.

Physiatrists are doctors who specialize in rehabilitation — the medicine of physical recovery.

Family doctors work with you to manage your general health and coordinate your ongoing health needs due to the stroke.

Nurses work closely with you and your family during all stages of recovery both in and out of hospital. They provide physical care, education, support, assessments and coordination of care.

Neuropsychologists assess the impact of stroke on your cognitive or thinking abilities. This expert can teach you how to help your brain recover and carry out cognitive tasks.

Occupational therapists work with you to adapt and participate in activities and tasks such as dressing, bathing, preparing and eating meals, driving, returning to work and leisure activities.

Physiotherapists work with you on recovering your physical abilities, strength and balance, for tasks such as walking and getting around.

Speech-language pathologists help you with swallowing and communication, including speaking.

Social workers help support you and your family’s social and emotional needs. They can help connect you to community services such as caregiver support and respite care, housing, financial aid, job and career counseling. 

Case managers and discharge planners help to plan your next step of care.

Dietitians assess your nutritional status and ability to eat. They identify safe, nutritious foods that will help you recover.

Pharmacists teach you about your medications, how to take them safely and what side effects to watch for.

Educators help you learn about your stroke and its effects. They also teach you, your caregiver and family members about caring for you and themselves. Any member of the team involved in your care might take on the role of educator.

Recreational therapists support you in finding and adapting leisure activities.

Virtual care: Stroke care from a distance

Virtual care is a healthcare session between a healthcare provider and a person with a health issue, which takes place with each person in a different location, like a home or clinic. It uses technology to connect them – such as by phone or computer with or without video-conferencing. Technology can give you access to treatments and services at any stage from the first few hours after a stroke, to rehabilitation, to care in the community. Find out if virtual care is an option for you.

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