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Your Mary Free Bed Stroke Rehabilitation Team

If you're recovering from a stroke, you'll be cared for by Mary Free Bed's team of stroke rehabilitation specialists. Each member of your stroke team has a particular area of expertise and responsibility, which means you receive an integrated, cohesive approach to meet all your varied and unique needs.

You, the Patient

You're the most important member of the team; all efforts are directed toward your needs. You're encouraged to participate in setting goals for your stroke rehabilitation. Your participation in therapy sessions is critical to the outcome of your  rehabilitation program.

Family Members

During your stroke rehab, your family members are primary sources of support. Your family provides important information helpful in planning your rehabilitation program. Initially, if you're unable to communicate your wishes, your stroke team will look to your family for input. Your family should attend therapy sessions, keep in regular contact with the social worker, and, at times, meet with your doctor. This helps prepare your family for your return home, and enables them to provide long-term support after hospitalization.


A physiatrist is a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation medicine. He or she manages your medical treatment during your stay at Mary Free Bed. Your physiatrist visits daily, oversees and coordinates therapy treatment with the team, and calls in any specialized consulting physicians, as needed. Your physiatrist is available to meet with you and your family, as necessary.


The stroke nursing team is comprised of the patient care director, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse technicians. Your rehab nursing team works with you and your family in the areas of health and stroke education, medication education and administration, and pain management.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

A Stroke Program occupational therapist evaluates your ability to perform self-care, including dressing and feeding, hygiene, bathing, and using the toilet. You'll learn how to perform these self-care skills safely and with the least amount of energy. 

Your therapist also evaluates home management skills (e.g., cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry), depending on your interest and need. Your therapist also works closely with you using a variety of meaningful daily living activities. These help you re-learn how to use the affected side of your body. A certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) may also provide your treatment under your OT's direction. 

Your OT evaluates your vision and visual perception (i.e., how you see the environment through your senses) that may have been affected by your stroke. Your family is encouraged to attend sessions to learn and understand your treatment program. During your sessions, your family see what assistance or supervision you may need with these activities.

Physical Therapist (PT)

A Stroke Program physical therapist evaluates your mobility skills and provides training for getting in and out of bed, and transferring to a wheelchair, toilet, tub, couch, and car. As your strength, endurance, and balance allow, your physical therapist also teaches you how to safely use your wheelchair or learn to walk and manage stairs.

In addition to working on mobility skills, your PT works with you to re-learn how to use the side of your body affected by the stroke. A physical therapist assistant (PTA) may also provide your treatment under the direction of the PT. Before discharge, your therapist will discuss any need to rent or purchase equipment. Your family is encouraged to attend sessions to learn and understand your treatment program and how to help with transfers and walking.

Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Your Stroke Program recreational therapist focuses on improving social and leisure skills.  When you're ready, and if appropriate, Mary Free Bed provides supervised outings in the community to work on the skills learned during your therapy sessions. Some of the skills observed and practiced are money management, feeding, social skills, walking, and wheelchair mobility. Seasonal golf clinics and water ski clinics are offered through Mary Free Bed's recreational therapy department. Other pet and sports programs are available.

Social Worker

Your social worker helps you and your family throughout your stay at Mary Free Bed. He or she assists you and your family with coping issues, coordinating financial resources, coordinating family education visits, and helping plan for discharge. Contact your social worker and other members of the stroke treatment team any time with questions you and your family have during your stay.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

A Stroke Program speech-language therapist evaluates your swallowing ability and adjusts your diet, as needed. Your SLP works to ensure safe eating and drinking with the least restrictive diet. Your speech therapist also evaluates and works with you to speak more clearly and to help you understand what is being said to you. Other areas such as memory, attention, and judgment are addressed, too. These skills affect your ability to resume more complex daily activities such as finances, driving, and, in some cases, return to work. Your family is welcome to observe and participate in the therapy program. It's important for you and your family to learn new swallowing strategies as well as ways of communicating with each other, and, if problems exist, to take advantage of other forms of communication.


A rehabilitation psychologist has expertise in evaluating right and left brain damage that affects how you think and your perception of things after a stroke. A psychologist is available, as needed, to help you and your family through the adjustment issues stroke survivors frequently face. Depression is common after stroke. A psychologist helps you cope with the effects of a stroke and determines medication needs.


Because we believe your spiritual needs are as important as your physical and emotional needs, a chaplain is available to meet with you and your family. Mary Free Bed's chaplain provides pastoral counseling and arranges for the services of a clergy person from a particular denomination.

Registered Dietician

Dieticians evaluate your nutritional needs and help you understand the value of healthy eating. They provide individualized nutrition education for you and your family. Nutrition Services staff is available each day to help make menu selections according to your specific diet.

Driver Rehabilitation Therapist

When appropriate, a driver rehabilitation therapist assesses your ability to return to driving. Mary Free Bed's Driver Rehabilitation Services provide a pre-driving perceptional screen, and if appropriate, an on-the-road driving evaluation and instruction. Driver rehabilitation specialists also recommend vehicle modifications, if needed, and provide information on licensing and handicap parking permits.

Insurance Rehabilitation Case Manager

Some insurance companies assign a rehabilitation nurse or rehabilitation counselor to monitor and ensure that reasonable and appropriate services designed to return you to independent living — to the extent possible — are provided. While this person is not an employee of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, the case manager works closely with the rehabilitation team to provide support and education and to help plan your discharge.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

If you're not retired, a vocational counselor is available to help explore plans for education, training, and employment after hospitalization. Services include assessment, referral to other community resources, and job placement. Often, vocational counselors continue to work with you after discharge from Mary Free Bed. The vocational counselor is an employee of the State of Michigan.

© 2015 Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital., Grand Rapids, MI | 1.855.MFB.REHAB
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