How to Train to Care for Stroke Patients

Prepare to care for stroke survivors in their homes.

Prepare to care for stroke survivors in their homes.

Whether you work at a health care facility or are a caregiver for a friend or family member, training in how to take care of a stroke patient can reduce your level of stress and improve the quality of life for the patient. A stroke is a debilitating occurrence and recovery works best when both the family and the professionals work together.

Spend Time in Hospital

Immediately following a stroke, survivors spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital while doctors treat them with life-saving measures and take steps to ensure that another stroke doesn’t happen. It’s during this acute phase of the treatment when you can learn how the stroke affected the patient, because each person manifests different symptoms. Some may lose speech, while others lose some motor skill abilities. Once recovery begins, doctors can estimate how much and what was lost before deciding on the type of care the person is going to need.

Make Rehab Decisions

The rehabilitation stage could last a lifetime, so caregivers need to prepare for long-term training and assistance. Decisions about where to go next are best made involving the patient, the family and the medical providers. In rehabilitation settings that often follow the hospital stay, caregivers learn which kinds of activities are possible for the patient and what type of assistance will be needed. For example, if you visit during mealtimes, you can learn how to feed the stroke survivor and take turns with the medical professional actually feeding the patient. By sitting in on physical therapy session, you can learn which exercises she can do on her own and which ones you need to help with.

Join Support Groups

Caregiver support groups are places where you can meet others caring for stroke patients and get tips on how they manage many of the challenges. Medical professionals can join associations and work groups to learn many of the same things. Groups such as the American Stroke Association provide resources to volunteers, community groups and professional associations to increase awareness of stroke prevention and care as well as put people together to share their experiences.

Take Specific Courses

Medical students interested in treating stroke patients usually follow a path of neurological study that teaches doctors how to treat the various causes of strokes and how to prevent further neurological abnormalities. Nursing students also can follow a specialty line of coursework in the field. Psychologists and physical therapists wanting to work specifically with stroke survivors have certain courses they can take as well as internships and residencies in the field. Caregivers in the home often can benefit from a short CNA program that teaches the basics of caregiving that include mobility training, feeding, bathing and dressing.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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