Finding Positivity Through Adversity in Poststroke Care: Harmony Sierens, MD


The medical director of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Ascension Genesys Hospital discussed the importance of early intervention, sustained care, and rehabilitation in managing poststroke patients. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"Stroke is common, many people are living with poststroke and have different levels of deficits. I think in stroke, we know early intervention is important, and there's a lot of information out there. There are all these mnemonics that help remember, ‘this could be a stroke, get emergency care, get to the hospital, there's intervention’ and that's wonderful. But I think we don't do a good job of talking about the management, poststroke, and how it changes lives and how it changes everybody's life that is involved with a person who's had a stroke.”

Stroke, a widespread disease, greatly impacts the quality of life of an individual, mostly through disability and physical changes, which can bring about different psychological and cognitive processes.1 Although stroke mortality has declined, research shows that the annual incidence of stroke in the general population is increasing.2 As more patients are living poststroke, practicing clinicians practice have the ability to optimize treatment management for their patients to improve outcomes and reduce the risk of other complications of the disease.

According to a review published in the Singapore Medical Journal, researchers recommend that clinicians institute secondary prevention and attention to bowel and bladder problems to reduce medical complications and readmissions.2 The researchers also suggested that adequate analgesia, positioning/splinting of limbs, and physiotherapy can also reduce any discomfort and preventable pain in patients.2 Stroke clinicians can help patients treat poststroke moods with psychological counseling and can provide additional support for patients by helping them have a more positive outlook on life.

In a recent conversation with NeurologyLive®, Harmony Sierens, MD, a physiatrist and medical director at Ascension Genesys Inpatient Rehab Unit, discussed how society can better address the long-term management and care needs of patients living poststroke. She talked about the role that physiatrists play in optimizing rehabilitation for these patients, and how early intervention gaps can be closed. In addition, Sierens spoke about how clinicians can shift the narrative surrounding strokes, from being solely devastating events to opportunities for positive life changes for patients.

1. Bártlová S, Šedová L, Havierniková L, Hudáčková A, Dolák F, Sadílek P. Quality of Life of Post-stroke Patients. Zdr Varst. 2022;61(2):101-108. Published 2022 Mar 21. doi:10.2478/sjph-2022-0014
2. Chohan SA, Venkatesh PK, How CH. Long-term complications of stroke and secondary prevention: an overview for primary care physicians. Singapore Med J. 2019;60(12):616-620. doi:10.11622/smedj.2019158
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