Stroke: Your Healthcare Team

After a stroke, you may start to feel alone and isolated. You're not! Make yourself part of a "team" that includes you, your doctor and a number of other healthcare professionals who want to help you recover—from doctors who can treat you to therapists who can help you move and talk again.

Primary care physician (PCP): This doctor is trained in general medicine, family practice or internal medicine. In addition, some people see nurse practitioners as their PCP. While a PCP can evaluate and treat stroke, he or she may refer you to a neurologist for stroke-specific care.

Neurologist: This doctor is trained in conditions affecting the brain, including stroke.

Nurse practitioner: An Advanced Practice Nurse who can provide high-quality care and treatment to patients. They can diagnose and treat a variety of health problems and inform patients about lifestyle changes that can improve their health.

Physician assistant: Health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. They perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures.

Physical therapist (PT): A PT uses exercises and physical manipulation of your body to help restore movement, balance and coordination. PTs can help you relearn movement skills, such as walking, sitting, lying down and switching from one type of movement to another.

Occupational therapist (OT): An OT uses exercises to help you relearn everyday tasks, such as eating, drinking, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading, writing and personal care.

Speech therapist: This professional helps you relearn language and communications skills. Speech therapists also help you deal with swallowing problems and develop alternative ways of communicating.

Dietitian/nutritionist: This professional helps you make dietary changes, such as losing weight and managing blood sugar that will reduce your stroke risk factors.

Smoking cessation expert: If you smoke and want to quit, your PCP can help you. In addition, smoking cessation groups and classes can help. Once you quit your stroke risk declines.

Nurse: Nurses can answer questions about your treatment plan. They can advise you on how to follow your doctor's recommendations and help you get the assistance you need.

Physiatrist (rehabilitation specialist): This medical doctor considers both your medical condition and your physical impairments to develop a treatment plan aimed at restoring maximum function.

Psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist: Feeling angry, anxious or depressed after a stroke is normal. A mental health professional can help you cope.

Social worker: Need help with meals, getting to your doctor or navigating health insurance issues? A social worker can help you find solutions.

Neurosurgeon/vascular surgeon: This doctor specializes in medical procedures and surgeries that can help prevent stroke, treat acute stroke, or repair vascular damage or malformations in the brain.