Gabriela M. Ortega, PT

Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, explains if you have a stroke on the right side of the brain, the deficits will appear on the left side of your body.

She also says stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term disability, because the brain controls everything, and depending on how long it takes you to seek help after a stroke, you can have many deficits and they can be permanent. Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, explains a clot that prevents blood from being delivered to the brain causes a stroke, and the brain depends on its arteries to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells. When there is a clot, the brain does not receive what it needs.

Haronyd Melo Nunez, Manager of Rehab Services at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, says in a hemorrhagic stroke there are weakened blood vessels within the brain cavity that are ruptured and that is why bleeding occurs. In addition, because this is in an enclosed space, pressure is added to the cells causing damage as well. Haronyd Melo Nunez, Manager of Rehab Services at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, says there is a variety of robotic therapy available for stroke patients. She highlights there is also electrical stimulation that is focused on whatever specific muscle is not activating, so you can wear a cuff around your leg that will send the electrical stimulation to the muscle as you are lifting so your foot will come up to take a step.

Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, explains these treatments and getting the patients back to their independence. Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, explains rehabilitation depends on the patient. “Once they are medically stable, we have a consult usually between the first 24 to 48 hours at the hospital to determine what deficits are present and the goals for the patients.”

Haronyd Melo Nunez, Manager of Rehab Services at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, says the physical therapy is mainly focused on the patient’s mobility. She also points out the therapy can be done as a video game to help the patient to move some objects. Age, family history, gender, hormones, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are risk factors for stroke.

Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, says the normal blood pressure is 120/80, and recommends if you suffer from high blood pressure, you should get on a regimen to control it. “Things like cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle are things we can control to reduce risks of stroke.” Haronyd Melo Nunez, Manager of Rehab Services at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, explains when patients are in the hospital, they receive about 25 to 30 minutes of therapy a day with an occupational therapist, and they can receive up to three hours of therapy combined from physical, occupational and speech therapy.

She says in an outpatient setting the therapist usually goes three times a week, it is not something they do on a daily basis, and each of the sessions are 45 minutes or half hour long. Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, points out outpatient rehabilitation is usually the last line of rehab. Some stroke complications are paralysis, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, emotional problems, and pain. Haronyd Melo Nunez, Manager of Rehab Services at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, says paralysis is one of the most common symptoms and it would happen on one side of the body. She also points out memory loss is very common. “People have issues remembering what they did a few minutes ago.”

Gabriela M. Ortega, Supervisor for Acute Rehabilitation at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, points out emotional problems can happen because of the area of the brain affected, and there can be changes in personality. “Patients often get depressed, because they have all these changes in the physical and mental health.”

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