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  • Neurologist Dr. Raymond Reichwein Offers Advice for Optimizing Stroke Recovery and Prevention
    May 11, 2015

    As part of American Stroke Month, doctor offers guidance on how to identify early signs of stroke and how to recover most effectively; Patient highlights the value of inpatient rehabilitation hospital in recovery

    HARRISBURG, Penn. — An inpatient rehabilitation hospital is often the best choice for ensuring that a stroke patient recovers to his or her optimum level and is able to return home, according to Dr. Raymond Reichwein, stroke program director at Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital and co-director of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Comprehensive Stroke Center. Dr. Reichwein is a neurologist with more than 15 years of experience in treating people who have had strokes and in educating them on strategies for recovery and future stroke prevention.

    “People who have had a stroke know how it can change their lives in a matter of seconds and how difficult it can be to get back to their normal lives,” said Dr. Reichwein. “Many patients who suffer severe strokes often never end up leaving nursing homes, even if they do make gradual progress. That is why I can’t stress enough the benefits of an inpatient rehabilitation hospital placement for some stroke victims, even months after their initial stroke.”

    In August 2013, Michael Wentling suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke and was in a skilled nursing facility for a prolonged period of time. On the recommendation of Dr. Reichwein, he was admitted to Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital in September 2014, his goal being to return home to his wife. After less than a month at the inpatient neuro-rehabilitation hospital, 68-year-old Wentling was finally able to return home.

    “Inpatient rehabilitation was an integral part of my recovery,” said Wentling. “I firmly believe I would not be able to do some of the basic tasks I can today without undergoing treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Dr. Reichwein recognized that I could benefit from therapy at Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, which gave me the best chance at an optimum recovery so I could return home.”

    For some stroke patients, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital is the best treatment program to regain skills affected by their stroke and return to as close to a normal life as possible. Dr. Reichwein offers some additional information on how an inpatient rehabilitation hospital can help stroke patients recover to the best of their abilities:

    • Restore physical function and enhance the skills needed to perform daily activities.
    • Build strength, improve balance, and regain mobility.
    • Improve speech and swallowing.
    • Develop new cognitive and behavioral strategies to compensate for their deficits.
    • Integrate back into their environment with possible decreased function of the brain, spinal cord, muscles, or nerves.
    • Be closely observed by medical teams for additional stroke events.
    • Optimize secondary stroke prevention.
    • Prevent post-stroke related complications.
    • Provide stroke-related education for the patient and family.

    “In addition to the value of an inpatient rehabilitation hospital for stroke victims, I recommend that high-risk patients not wait until after a stroke to focus on treatment options and aggressive modification of risk factors, such as reduction of blood pressure, weight loss, and smoking cessation,” said Dr. Reichwein.

    According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable through proper lifestyle and medical monitoring. Signs that you or a loved one may be suffering a stroke include:

    • Facial numbness or weakness (especially on one side)
    • Numbness or weakness in the arms (especially on one side of the body); and/or
    • Slurred speech and difficulty speaking.

    Dr. Reichwein recommends calling 911 if these symptoms occur suddenly and/or are accompanied by other potential stroke symptoms (such as loss of vision, loss of balance, dizziness, or a severe headache). He stresses the importance of a timely response to symptoms, noting that treatment with intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (TPA)—a clot buster drug—needs to begin within three hours of symptom onset.

    In addition to practicing neurology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, Dr. Reichwein is also director of the Penn State LionNet Telestroke Program, a partnership between regional community hospitals and Penn State Hershey designed to improve patient care via telemedicine.

    Many Americans do not know what an inpatient rehabilitation hospital is, nor do they understand its value in stroke recovery and other neurological conditions. Select Medical, one of the nation’s leading networks of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, has launched an educational campaign to help consumers understand the benefits of an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. For more information or to locate an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, visit http://www.therightchoiceforrehab.com.

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