Most patients presenting with an acute stroke are admitted to hospital. The duration of hospitalisation differs depending on various patient factors and the stroke severity. The average length of stay for a stroke patient at the Singapore General Hospital is six days.
During the hospitalisation period, you will undergo various tests including brain scans and blood investigations. These will help your doctor to diagnose the type and cause of stroke as well as your stroke risk factors, which in turn will influence your treatment.
The effects of a stroke may be physical, cognitive and/ or emotional. There can be serious complications in the immediate period following a stroke such as an increase in the size of brain damage and swelling around the area of brain damage. The risks of these complications vary between stroke patients, and your doctor will discuss these risks with you individually.
While in hospital, you will be managed by a teamof healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, pharmacists, dietitians, psychologists and medical social workers. Acute stroke treatment includes oral medications and close monitoring for any deterioration and complications. In some specific cases, it may involve medications via infusions and surgery.
Rehabilitation is an important component of care following a stroke. This will be tailored to the symptoms and signs you have as a result of the stroke as well as your specific needs.
Your rehabilitation may be continued while you are an inpatient in the acute hospital, or you may be transferred to a community hospital for inpatient rehabilitation, or you may be discharged and have outpatient rehabilitation at a centre near your home.
Stroke recovery is a slow process that takes months. Up to 60 per cent of stroke survivors have some residual disability. Part of your rehabilitation programme will involve learning how to adapt and cope with these residual deficits. This may involve learning tips to help you perform daily tasks, use of tools and aids such as walking frames, and installation of home modifications. Participation in rehabilitation and keeping active is known to improve outcomes following a stroke.
There are many long-term complications associated with a stroke. These include clots in the veins of the legs due to prolonged immobilisation, infection, depression, joint pains and contractures, increased stiffness of the affected limbs and constipation. Your healthcare team will discuss with you how to prevent these complications as well as how to manage them should they occur.
Stroke survivors are at risk of another stroke and other vascular diseases such as heart attacks. Your medical team will advise you on how to reduce this risk. This would include taking medications as prescribed, attending medical appointments on schedule, having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Your doctors and medical team will advise you on your individual management plan.