HOUSTON (April 30, 2010) – Often powerless in their efforts to sit up, stand or walk, stroke patients come to the Rehabilitation Services Department at Quentin Mease Community Hospital looking for hope. For physical therapists Eileen Tseng, PT, DPT, in inpatient care and Anne Miller, PT, MS, in outpatient care, all they ask in return is a strong patient effort.
Over the years, the rehabilitation department has helped hundreds of stroke patients regain mobility and improve their quality of life.
Strokes occur when blood is blocked to the brain, causing minor or major brain damage. Depending on the level of stroke, patients can lose a variety of body functions.
Following hospitalization at either Ben Taub General Hospital or Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, both part of the Harris County Hospital District, stroke patients arrive at Quentin Mease Hospital, a CARF-Accredited facility, for inpatient rehabilitation. After a patient assessment, Tseng of Montrose works one-on-one with patients to help them achieve mobility goals like sitting, transferring from wheelchairs, and standing or walking — the most common goal for stroke patients.
“When they’re here, I’m going to challenge them and make them work,” she says. “Stroke is not the type of diagnosis that would allow a person to lay in bed and their body would heal.”
Inpatient care usually lasts about 2-3 weeks.
“Patients usually think there’s a magic button to make you better. I have to explain that you can only get better if you put in the time and work,” Tseng says. “Think of yourself as an athlete. To be at the top of your game, you have to train for what you want.”
After much effort, many patients see enough gains to go home where they can care for themselves or have family members assist them. For those making strides, outpatient rehabilitation care is prescribed.
Miller of Spring Branch gets them at this point. She works to fine tune the basic skills they learned during inpatient care. Whether it’s walking for longer distances or strengthening unresponsive muscles, the work never ends.
“When patients come in, they’re usually moving slowly or not making fluid motions,” she says. “I work to correct their movements and make them more efficient so they can do many of the things they used to do before their stroke.”
Outpatient rehabilitation can take an average of 2-3 months, sometimes longer. It all depends on the continued progress of patients.
Both Tseng and Miller say the exciting thing about their jobs is helping patients accomplish, what to them are dramatic strides like moving around in their home, enjoying their time with family or resuming hobbies or work.
For more information on stroke, visit the American Stroke Association at www.strokeassociation.org