Why Neurological Rehabilitation Is So Effective at The Nathaniel Witherell
The nervous system, made up of the brain, spine, and nerves, coordinates our movements, thoughts, and sensations. It not only transmits the messages from our brains to our arms and legs so that we can move them, it also controls breathing, memory, and just about everything that keeps us interacting well with the rest of the world. And if there’s a major glitch in the system − like a stroke or serious spinal cord injury − then treatment will most likely include neurological rehabilitation. (Degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and dementia may also necessitate neurological rehabilitation.)
There are more than 600 types of acute and chronic neurological diseases, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). Since they affect everyone differently, a proper treatment plan must take the patient’s unique situation into consideration, and ensure that the professionals involved communicate and coordinate their treatments effectively.
The Nathaniel Witherell’s patient-centric, multi-disciplinary team approach makes us well qualified to provide this type of care. Short-term rehab patients are very happy with our approach, and many come back to us for outpatient care.
Dina Meles, Witherell’s rehabilitation manager, says that patients feel so secure in the support they receive at the Nathaniel Witherell that many do not want to end their therapy. “We tell them we love for them to always come back… especially as visitors,” she says.
Below, Meles answers some important questions about neurological rehab:
What happens when a patient arrives?
When a patient is admitted to The Nathaniel Witherell for neurological rehabilitation, we conduct physical, occupational and, if necessary, cognitive evaluations and create a comprehensive treatment plan. Our goal is to help patients function as well as they did before they were impacted by the neurological issue. If this is not possible, then Witherell works to prepare the patient to live safely and as functional as possible in an appropriate setting.
A patient’s team includes a surgeon, attending physician, RN patient care coordinator, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and discharge planner. Once the plan is in place he/she is assigned a primary physical, occupational, and speech therapist. Psychological counseling or pastoral care is provided, if necessary, to ensure a comprehensive program.
Everything here revolves around our patients. Constant communication between them, our staff, and the families enables us to share insights, understand their needs, and set up suitable long-term living solutions.
What is involved in neurological rehabilitation?
Neurological rehabilitation treatments are designed to help improve symptoms, relieve pain, and increase mobility. At Nathaniel Witherell, we provide physical and occupational therapy 5 to 7 days a week, and speech therapy up to 5 days a week, depending on need. Individual sessions can run between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours per discipline and skill.
Treatment plans are tailored to each individual patient, and can include: fitting of hand or foot braces, balance and gait training, upper and lower body trunk strengthening, swallowing evaluations and exercises, oral motor exercises, and thermal stimulation are also utilized in addition to cognitive retraining and expressive and receptive language rehabilitation.
What are the benefits of a patient-centric team approach?
The full extent of a person’s neurological impairment is not always apparent at the initial evaluation. For example, one of our patients had trouble standing up, so the issue was initially attributed to his physical disorder. But a nurse quickly realized that the patient had forgotten how to put his hands on the chair for support, so he couldn’t rise. The nurse communicated the issue to the rest of the team and the issue was addressed through cognitive therapy.
Another patient was not improving in another rehab facility because the physical therapy was too tiring. When we broke down the treatment into shorter sessions, she began making significant progress. It’s all about respect; we value our patient’s input and respect each other’s professional expertise.
What should you do first when diagnosed with a neurological disorder?
If you or a family member is diagnosed with a neurological disorder, the first thing you should do is to educate yourself. Have a frank conversation with your doctor so that you are prepared and able to make informed choices.
Some types of neurological disorders are acute and can improve with therapy. Others are chronic, and can deteriorate over time. At Nathaniel Witherell, we try to maintain a person’s abilities as long as possible. The key, according to the Neuropathy Association, is to be proactive; acknowledge your symptoms and seek an early diagnosis and treatment, so that you can slow down or halt its progression.