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Siskin Hospital's Stroke Program 

Please visit each section of this page to learn about the comprehensive Stroke treatments and programs available to help you or a loved one recover from a Stroke. 

Cause of Stroke


Warning Signs

Inpatient Stroke Program

The Stroke Recovery After-Care Program


A Survivor's Story

Cause of Stroke

A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. This can be caused by a broken or blocked blood vessel. The lack of oxygen causes the effected brain cells to die, setting off a chain reaction that spreads the damage to surrounding brain tissue. Abilities controlled by the effected area of the brain are compromised.The location and severity of the stroke determine which abilities will be lost or damaged. For example, a stroke in the brain's right hemisphere affects the left side of the body, which interferes with spatial and perceptual abilities, results in impulsive behavior, and/or short-term memory loss.

A stroke in the brain's left hemisphere affects the right side of the body, which interferes with speech and swallowing, results in cautious behavior, and causes problems conceptualizing, generalizing and retaining information.

A brain stem stroke can be devastating as this area controls involuntary functions like breathing and heartbeat. A stroke in the cerebellum interferes with balance and causes abnormal reflexes.

Read a young stroke patient's story: Because of Siskin Hospital, I can live happily ever after.

Stroke Prevention

"One In Six: Act Now!"


Did you know that one of every six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime?

The global threat of stroke has caused the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association, and the World Stroke Association to declare October 29 World Stroke Day. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States and the second-leading cause of death in the world. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. 

The World Stroke Association wants you to ACT NOW by taking these six challenges to lower your stroke risk:

  • Know the risk factors for stroke that you can do something about - high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol - and work to keep them in a healthy range. 
  • Be physically active and exercise regularly.
  • Adopt a healthy diet.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now. 
  • Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and how to take action. 

Read about a grandmother's recovery from stroke: Because of Siskin Hospital, I can make memories.

Stroke Warning Signs

Know the Warning Signs and Think FAST!

If you or someone you know has one or more of the following signs, don't delay in getting help!! 

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. 
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Immediately call 9-1-1 for Emergency Medical Services to send an ambulance with advanced life support. 
Also, check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared. It's very important to take immediate action because treatment within the first three hours can help reduce long-term disabilities for the most common type of stroke. 

Read how two brothers recovered from stroke to farm together once more: Because of Siskin Hospital, we can farm our family's land.

Inpatient Stroke Program

Within minutes, a stroke can change your life. The Inpatient Stroke Program at Siskin Hospital is specifically designed to prepare you to function safely at home and in the community, so you can most fully participate in life. 

Special Features:
  • A dedicated Stroke Unit with spacious, private rooms and bathrooms
  • An experienced team with special training in Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Close medical oversight by physiatrists specializing in rehabilitation of stroke
  • Personalized therapy sessions designed to the patient's level of tolerance and to address individual goals
  • The latest in equipment and treatment modalities for Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Extensive education, training, and resources for patients and caregivers to help patients understand and manage impairments and complications from the stroke, reduce the risk of having another stroke, and decrease environmental barriers
  • Services to assist with psychological and coping needs, including access to individual counseling, peer counselors, and support groups
  • Services to help patients continue their recovery after returning home:
    • Follow-up medical/neuropsychological care in the Stroke Aftercare Program
    • Outpatient Therapy Services
    • The NeuroWellness Program at the Siskin Health & Fitness Center
Treatment Team

Each patient is evaluated by a stroke team operating under the leadership of a physiatrist. Together with the family, professionals in the fields of rehabilitation nursing, speech-language pathology, clinical nutrition, psychology, vocational counseling, case management, as well as physical and occupational therapies work with the patient to achieve the best outcome possible.   

An essential member of the treatment team is the family. Extensive education, training and resources for patients and their caregivers will help them to understand and manage the conditions related to stroke, decrease environmental barriers, and promote self-advocacy. Family members are encouraged to collaborate with the patient's treatment team to provide information about the patient's personality, lifestyle and hopes.


The goals of the program are specific to each patient and injury, but overall are aimed at restoring, enhancing, and supporting the patient's maximum level of independence. Through Inpatient, SubAcute, Outpatient, and Vocational Rehabilitation Programs, Siskin Hospital offers comprehensive rehabilitation at every level of treatment, from initial therapy to returning the patient to the community, school, or work.

Components of Care

Because stroke can affect normal functioning of muscles, therapists provide intervention to prevent further muscle damage. Therapists move the patient's body in ways that provide therapeutic benefits, working to restore posture, muscle function, coordination, and balance.

Every clinician integrates a number of techniques into therapy to improve the patient's thinking, reasoning, memory, communication, understanding and problem solving, but speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and psychologists are the clinicians most involved in this process.

An occupational therapist assesses the patient's visual skills and utilizes a variety of rehabilitation technologies and compensatory strategies to improve function. 

Depending on the patient's progress, therapists help the patient re-learn daily living skills to live as independently as possible. The individualized treatment plan is adjusted according to the patient's lifestyle and personal goals. Daily living goals may include nutrition, dressing and personal care, mobility, communication, problem solving, vision, perception, leisure activities, driving, and returning to work or school. In a superivsed environment, patients are able to practice independent living skills in our therapy areas, including a kitchen, bathroom, living, and bedroom setting. 

A clinical dietitian develops a nutritional plan based on personal preference and medical, texture, and religious restrictions. A speech-language pathologist provides evaluation and treatment of chewing, swallowing, and speech disorders. The treatment team also identifies adaptive devices that are needed.

To return to community living, patients participate in planned outings, using their newly-acquired adaptive equipment to confront obstacles in the community and learn strategies to overcome these barriers.

Addressing the patient's depression and anxiety about the ability to communicate and function after a stroke is primarily the responsibility of psychologists, but every member of the treatment team helps the patient manage anxiety and look to the future with hope. 

Rehabilitation nurses work with patients to establish a medication schedule so patients can take their medications independently upon discharge. If the patient is unable to manage their medicines, nurses work with the family to educate them on medication management. 

For some, successful return to work or school will only require minimal adjustment, but others may require assistance with finding a new career direction. The entire team, including the family, conducts evaluation and planning for the patient's vocational and educational needs.

Read how one stroke patient regained his independence: Because of Siskin Hospital, I can say "I Love You."

Stroke Recovery After-Care Program

The Services:

Each patient's stroke experience varies depending on the type of stroke, as well as the specific areas of the brain that are damaged. Some people are able to make a full recovery from a stroke, while others face challenges for the rest of their lives. Progress is possible at one month, one year, or 20-plus years after a stroke. It is different for everyone, but there is hope for progress. 

Receiving proper care after a patient returns home from the hospital is an important part of the recovery process. This will help ensure their recovery is maximized, with the goal of enabling them to live their life to the fullest extent possible. While it is very important to continue medical supervision under a primary care physician, it is also very beneficial to receive proper care for other unique issues that may result from a stroke. These challenges are best managed by medical professionals with specialized knowledge in this area. 

Specialized Program: 

Siskin Hospital's medical staff, neuropsychologists, and case managers will help ensure that patients receive proper stroke-related treatments. Patients and their family members will obtain comprehensive information about maximizing their recovery, not only through medical treatment options, but also with the emotional and social elements of care.

The patient's first visit to this special program should occur six weeks after their discharge from Siskin Hospital. The patient's case manager will arrange scheduling this initial visit prior to discharge. During that visit, a wide variety of topics will be evaluated or discussed to better serve each individual.

Topics may include: 
- Recovery of muscle function
- Management of abnormal muscle tone
- Bracing or splinting needs/adjustments
- Shoulder or arm problems
- Management of continued pain
- Medication needs/changes
- Cognitive functioning
- Depression/Adjustment issues
- Nutrition and swallowing
- Vision problems
- Driving status
- Home and work issues
- Equipment needs
- Follow-up therapy/ Fitness Center
- Education and community resources
- Referral to other specialists 


In many cases, stroke patients may benefit from the continuum of care through Siskin Hospital's Center for NeuroRecovery. This program provides a continuity of care through Inpatient, Outpatient, and Neuro-Wellness programs.

Learn more about the Center for NeuroRecovery.

Siskin Hospital offers a monthly Stroke Support Group. The group discusses the challenges of overcoming stroke, resources, social, and care issues. 

Learn more about the Stroke Support Group at Siskin Hospital.

The National Stroke Association has been an active participant in fighting Stroke in American since 1984. Please visit their website (listed above) for more information.

A Survivor's Story: Alison Smiley

On January 20, 2011, Alison Smiley collapsed in a parking lot outside of the Mountain Arts Center on Signal Mountain.  She was still conscious, but was unable to speak or move her right side. Although she had no previous warning signs, this young, active mother of two had suffered a stroke.

Following emergency surgery and a week of recovery, she was transferred to Siskin Hospital. Upon arriving, Alison had limited use of her right hand and leg, and experienced many speech and swallowing deficits. As an inpatient, Alison participated in physical, occupational and speech therapies, including Vital Stim treatment to help reactivate her swallowing ability.

In less than a year, Alison made remarkable improvements. She is now able to swallow, speak, walk and care for her children. She continued in outpatient therapy to work on her speech, as well as the movement in her right hand.

Her faith, family and friends, along with the caring staff at Siskin Hospital, helped Alison return to a healthy life, but most importantly, helped her return to being a wife and mother.