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Neurological Rehabilitation

What is neurological rehabilitation?

Neurological rehabilitation is a doctor-supervised program designed for people with diseases, trauma, or disorders of the nervous system. Neurological rehabilitation can often improve function, reduce symptoms, and improve the well-being of the patient.

What conditions can benefit from neurological rehabilitation?

Injuries, infections, degenerative diseases, structural defects, tumors, and disorders in the circulatory system can impair the nervous system. Some of the conditions that may benefit from neurological rehabilitation may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Vascular disorders, such as ischemic strokes (caused by blood clots), hemorrhagic strokes (caused by bleeding in the brain), subdural hematoma, and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)

  • Infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis, polio, and brain abscesses

  • Trauma, such as brain and spinal cord injury

  • Structural or neuromuscular disorders, such as Bell palsy, cervical spondylosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, brain or spinal cord tumors, peripheral neuropathy, muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome

  • Functional disorders, such as headache, seizure disorder, dizziness, and neuralgia

  • Degenerative disorders, such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer disease, and Huntington chorea

The neurological rehabilitation team

Neurological rehabilitation programs can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the neurological rehabilitation team, including any or all of the following:

  • Neurologist/neurosurgeon

  • Orthopedist/orthopedic surgeon

  • Physiatrist

  • Internist

  • Other specialty doctors

  • Rehabilitation specialists

  • Registered dietitian

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Speech/language therapist

  • Social worker

  • Psychologist/psychiatrist

  • Recreational therapist

  • Case manager

  • Audiologist

  • Chaplain

  • Vocational counselor

The neurological rehabilitation program

A neurological rehabilitation program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending on the specific problem or disease. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program.

The goal of neurological rehabilitation is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life — physically, emotionally, and socially.

In order to help reach these goals, neurological rehabilitation programs may include the following:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, handwriting, cooking, and basic housekeeping

  • Speech therapy to help patients with speaking, reading, writing, or swallowing

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression management

  • Bladder and bowel retraining

  • Activities to improve mobility (movement), muscle control, gait (walking), and balance

  • Exercise programs to improve movement, prevent or decrease weakness caused by lack of use, manage spasticity and pain, and maintain range of motion

  • Social and behavioral skills retraining

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Involvement in community support groups

  • Activities to improve cognitive impairments, such as problems with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment

  • Help with obtaining assistive devices that promote independence

  • Patient and family education and counseling

  • Safety and independence measures and home care needs

  • Pain management

  • Stress management and emotional support

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Vocational counseling

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