It’s no surprise that stroke care gets a lot of attention in America, given that they're so common.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), around 800,000 people each year have a stroke in the United States. The large majority of these are first-time strokes, but almost one-fourth of them occur in people who’ve had one prior.
There are two types of strokes. Nearly 90% are of the ischemic type, caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. The balance are hemorrhagic strokes, caused by bleeding in the brain.
While strokes kill around 140,000 Americans every year, the odds of recovery are better when people quickly recognize the signs of stroke and seek medical attention. The classic signs of stroke spell out the acronym “FAST”:
F for Face: When the person smiles, does the face droop to one side?
A for Arms: When the person raises both arms, does one drift downward?
S for Speech: Does the person’s speech sound slurred or unusual?
T for Time: If you see any of these signs, it’s time to call 911 immediately.
Much of the attention on strokes focuses on fast diagnosis and treatment. A recent study, though, looked at whether there was a difference in the functional improvements of stroke survivors after they were discharged from the initial hospitalization, based on whether they received additional therapy.
In December 2019, the JAMA Network published the results of an original geriatrics investigation comparing functional status improvements for stroke patients who received post-hospital care in inpatient rehabilitation facilities versus skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).
Before delving into the study’s interesting conclusions, we should talk about what the differences are between these two types of facilities.
Inpatient rehab facilities and SNFs certainly have some overlapping areas. In fact, both of them offer rehabilitation nursing and therapy. As the names suggest, though, rehab centers focus on more intense rehabilitation, typically for at least three hours a day up to six days a week. Skilled nursing facilities offer less frequent, less lengthy therapy to their patients/residents.
Now, back to the study.
The researchers found that patients who received therapy at inpatient rehabilitation facilities fared better. They demonstrated an increased improvement in mobility (getting around) and caring for themselves when compared to those who did their inpatient rehabilitation at an SNF.
In short, many patients will have a better recovery if they are discharged from the hospital to an inpatient rehabilitation facility, rather than an SNF. The authors of the study recommended that physicians and nursing case managers carefully consider what’s best for the individual patient in determining where to continue therapy after discharge from the hospital.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of a misdiagnosed or mistreated stroke, then it’s important to contact an attorney with significant experience in handling stroke medical malpractice cases. At Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, we have significant experience in handling various types of stroke cases.