HealthDay News — New guidelines for rehabilitation after a stroke have been published online May 4 in Stroke.

Ideally, stroke patients should begin their rehabilitation before they even leave the hospital, and should be sent directly to inpatient rehabilitation after their hospital discharge, according to new guidelines by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA). This would be instead of a skilled nursing facility or nursing home. Patients should also learn about the side effects of their medication and how to use devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes before they leave the hospital.

Other recommendations issued by the AHA/ASA include: Stroke patients who have trouble walking should undergo intense mobility-task training to help relearn how to perform daily activities, such as climbing stairs; stroke patients who have trouble speaking should undergo speech therapy; patients who have vision problems and have trouble focusing should perform eye exercises; and balance training should be offered to stroke survivors at risk for falls.

“This recommendation will probably change medical practice. Even the top stroke centers may not have a formal falls-prevention program, but it is very important because a high percentage of patients end up falling after a stroke,” lead author of the new guidelines, Carolee Winstein, Ph.D., P.T., of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said in an AHA/ASA news release.

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