The Acute Stroke Unit at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is equipped to provide initial care and treatment for stroke patients. In 2014, in response to the high number of stroke cases, Ward C10 was upgraded and converted into a 20 bedded Acute Stroke Unit. The Unit caters primarily to stroke victims, with an emphasis on stroke neurology, stroke rehabilitation, speech and swallow pathology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
We understand that a stroke is a frightening experience for the patient and their family. It involves immediate medical treatment and sometimes months of ongoing rehabilitation and treatment.
We recognise that it can be very confusing trying to understand what has happened as well as learning about the practical steps needed to help the affected person make the best possible recovery. We see each person as an individual and aim to work in partnership with our patients and their family to ensure the best medical care and fullest possible recovery following a stroke.
The Stroke Care Team
Our patients are cared for by a multidisciplinary Stroke Care Team led by Consultant Physicians and Neurologists. The other members of the Stroke Care Team include:
- Resident Medical Officers who provide 24-hour on-site medical cover
- Nurses and healthcare assistants who are the person’s main carers in hospital, providing day-to-day care, dispensing medication and making sure the person is kept comfortable
- Physiotherapists who help optimise muscle tone, and improve balance, co-ordination and function
- Occupational Therapists who carry out physical and cognitive assessments, planning goal-related treatment interventions to prevent disability and promote independence
- Speech and Swallowing Pathology Specialists who assist in the rehabilitation of speech if impaired, and assess the patient’s ability to swallow safely
- Dieticians who provide acute and long term nutritional advice and education to patient and their carers
Emergency Care Recommendation
A Stroke is a medical emergency. Caused by a clot or a bleed in the brain which causes brain cells to die, strokes are the second most common cause of death in Barbados. Patients with suspected acute stroke should gain access to specialist care by the fastest route possible. As soon as the stroke has been diagnosed, medication and treatment can be started.
For those patients whose suspected stroke has occurred within three hours, we recommend urgent admission to the A&E Department of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital so that, if appropriate, thrombolysis can be started.
Following a stroke, people may experience:
- Motor impairment, weakness or paralysis
- Lack of feeling
- Swallowing difficulties
- Speech or language difficulties
- Problems of perception
- Cognitive difficulties
- Behaviour changes
- Difficulties with bowel or bladder control (urinary or faecal incontinence)
- Psychological impairment / mood changes, depression, and changes in cognitive functioning
- Post-stroke pain
Recovery from Stroke & Rehabilitation
Initially after a stroke, good nursing care focuses on assessment and preventing complications. Once the person is stable, the stroke care team works out an individual rehabilitation programme, aimed at helping people regain as much independence as possible, by relearning skills they have lost, learning new skills and finding ways to manage any permanent disabilities.
Of people who survive a stroke around half will be left with significant disability. Having said that, the brain is remarkably adaptable and in the months or years after a stroke, many cells that have sustained damage recover some of their function. At the same time other areas of the brain take over the functions performed by the cells that have died.
The time it takes to recover is extremely variable. Commonly people have a surge of recovery in the weeks following a stroke, followed by a slower recovery over the next year to 18 months or so.
Rehabilitation following stroke is about the process of achieving the best level of independence as possible by:
- Learning new skills
- Relearning skills and abilities
- Adapting to the physical, emotional and social consequences of the stroke.
How we can help
Our interdisciplinary team of Consultants, Nursing staff, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists aim to provide a patient centred, goal orientated approach to Stroke Rehabilitation to enable the individual to reach their optimum level of recovery. We motivate patients to participate in their rehabilitation programmes and support them to transfer skills obtained into their own homes, including return to work, family or education.
The services we offer are:
- initial care
- rehabilitation following a stroke
- investigation of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
A unit in the Department of Rehabilitation, Occupational Therapy is an essential element in the rehabilitation of patients following an illness, operation or disability. After experiencing an illness, operation or disability, people may experience difficulties with performing everyday activities. Occupational Therapists can help maximise your independence to manage the activities that are important to you.
Our Occupational Therapy Unit provides a comprehensive service to hospital inpatients as well as out-patients.
The Occupational Therapy Unit provides a wide range of assessments and treatments. These include:
- Facilitation of a safe discharge home
- Assessment and treatment of functional difficulties
- Advice on home modification
- Advice on and prescription of adaptive equipment
- Teaching of alternative of compensatory techniques
- Advice and education about specific care needs and how to arrange increased support at home
- Specialist seating assessments
- Wheelchair assessments
- Manual handling advice