When you have a stroke, a team of healthcare providers works with you and your family, whether in hospital or at home, 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. Keep a list of names, roles and ways to contact them.
Your role working with the team
You, your care partner and those close to you 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 medical centres 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? 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?
Making the most of team meetings
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. Make notes of each meeting — who was there, what was discussed and what the next steps will be.
Bring someone with you who can take notes and help you to remember and understand what happened at the meeting. Keep a journal or calendar of all your appointments, meetings and tests.
Team members and their roles
The makeup of your stroke recovery 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 brain issues.
Physiatrists are doctors expert in rehabilitation – the medicine of physical recovery.
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.
Family doctors are experts in your general health.
Nurses work closely with you and your family during all stages of recovery both in and out of hospital. They provide physical care, assessments and coordination of care.
Occupational therapists work with you to make a plan to resume your daily tasks, like dressing, bathing, eating 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, speaking and communication.
Social workers may help you with social and emotional problems. They may also work with you and your family to plan your care after discharge. Other types of people who help with planning your next step of care include case managers and discharge planners.
Dietitians assess your ability to eat. They identify foods and meals that will help recovery by taking into account your nutritional needs, swallowing challenges and food preferences.
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 care partner 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.
Telestroke: Stroke care from a distance
Thanks to technology, people who live far away from stroke specialists have options for long-distance care. Healthcare providers in one area can link with consultants and specialists in another area for real-time assessments and treatment. This 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 this is an option for you.
Know what to expect on your personal stroke recovery journey. Get a free copy of our stroke recovery book.
Listen to Christine talk about the importance of having an advocate at her healthcare meetings in this video.
To find useful services to help you with rehabilitation, see our listings of government and community agencies.
Watch a short animation about how therapy can help after a stroke.
Transitions and community participation infographic (PDF)