All posts by Angelo Antoline

10 Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J. Fox was a 29-year-old actor who woke up one morning and noticed his little finger shaking. What he thought was a side effect of a hangover actually was an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that has no known cause. Nearly a million people in the United States live with the disease.

Some symptoms of the disease are easy to see, while others are hard even for a trained healthcare professional to detect.
The National Parkinson Foundation offers these 10 early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Tremor or shaking of a body part
  2. Small handwriting – your handwriting changes to become smaller
  3. Loss of smell
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Trouble moving or walking
  6. Constipation
  7. Soft or low voice – your voice changes to be softer
  8. Masked or serious look on your face even when you’re not in a bad mood
  9. Dizziness or fainting
  10. Stooping or hunching over

No one symptom necessarily means that you have the disease; the symptom may be caused by another condition. However, if you feel you are experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit your physician.

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Rehabilitative Care – It’s Not All the Same

When looking for rehabilitative care, you may have heard of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, and nursing homes. While these may seem like equal choices for care, they’re not.

Each of the facilities mentioned above has rehabilitation professionals on staff, but only one – the rehabilitation hospital – specializes in rehabilitation, offering 24-hour rehabilitative nursing care, along with daily physician management and intensive rehabilitation therapies.

So, why is this important?

Simply put, when it comes to your health, you want the best option provided.

A national study commissioned by the ARA Research Institute shows that patients treated in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals have better long-term results than those treated in skilled nursing facilities.
The study shows that patients:

  • Live longer
  • Have less hospital and ER visits
  • Remain longer in their homes without additional outpatient services

In addition, patients in the study:

  • Returned home from their initial stay two weeks earlier
  • Remained home two weeks longer

So the bottom line is, as a patient, you get to choose where you want to go. Don’t ever hesitate to research, observe and ask questions about a facility to be sure you receive the level of rehabilitative care that you want and need.

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Lower Your Stroke Risks this Summer

Summer is a great time for a lot of things – barbecues, outdoor activities, vacations…but what you may not think about when it comes to summer is using all it has to offer to lower your stroke risks.

Strokes – or brain attacks – are the leading cause of adult disabilities in the United States, and can happen to anyone at any time. According to the National Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people experience strokes every year.

One of the biggest myths regarding strokes is that they can’t be avoided. But in reality, nearly 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented by controlling lifestyle risk factors, or habits that we engage in that can be changed to improve our health.

Summer provides easy-to-find opportunities to lower stroke risks, such as:

  • Buy and eat fresh produce. Visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store to find in-season, fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat them in their natural states.
  • Eat less salt. Eat fresh vegetables versus canned items, and your salt intake will decrease.
  • Visit the beach. Eat more seafood (at the beach or not) instead of red meat.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Get active outside during the warmer and longer days.
  • Put the cigarettes down. Summer usually is less stressful. Use it to your advantage to try to break the habit.
  • Shoot for your healthy weight. Healthy eating and activities may help you reach a healthy weight (if you’re not already at it).
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After a Stroke — Finding the Right Words

It’s common to struggle at times to find the right word during a conversation. But for an individual who has had a stroke, finding the right word may be much more difficult.

Aphasia can be a side effect of a stroke, which can affect a person’s ability to communicate by impairing the ability to speak, read, listen or write. When a person with aphasia has word-finding difficulty, it’s called anomia.

Anomia makes it difficult to find the words or ideas that a person wants to share. Sometimes the word may come, and sometimes it won’t.

When this happens in a conversation, the person who is speaking to the stroke survivor may want to jump in quickly to supply the word. But in reality, that can be more of a hindrance than a help. It would be more beneficial to help the person find the word they are looking for rather than supplying it.

So, how can you best communicate with someone under these circumstances? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Allow plenty of time for a response. Talk with the individual, not for him or her.
  • Ask “yes” or “no” questions that can be answered simply and without a lot of explanation.
  • Use photographs or pictures to help provide cues.
  • Write your cues – such as a letter or a drawing – on a piece of paper to share.
  • Confirm and repeat back what the person has said. Use paraphrases or key words to be sure that you’re understanding properly.
  • Use gestures as you ask questions.
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Act FAST and Save a Life

FAST is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of stroke:

F – Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Note if one side of the face is drooping.
A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms to the side. See if one drifts downward.
S – Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Listen if the speech is slurred or strange.
T – Time to call 911. If you observe any of these signs, call for help immediately.

Take note of the time of the first symptom so you can tell medical personnel because this can affect treatment decisions. Rapid access to medical treatment can make a difference between full recovery and permanent disability.

Other symptoms of a stroke also may include sudden onset of:

  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding what someone is saying
  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Even if you’re unsure if someone is having a stroke, don’t delay in calling 911 to get the person medical help immediately.

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Don’t Have a Stroke

Dick Clark. Sharon Stone. Rick James.

When you think of these celebrities, you probably think of their talents. What you probably don’t realize is that each suffered a stroke.

Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.

According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.

Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke. Many of these lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and may actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.

That’s good news, right? So, how do we lessen our chances of having a stroke?

We can start by controlling these lifestyle risk factors:
• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Poor diet
• High blood cholesterol
• Physical inactivity
• Obesity
• Heart diseases
• Alcohol consumption

If you think you can improve any of these lifestyle risk factors, do it.
The changes you make now may affect what happens – or better yet, what doesn’t happen – later.

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If you have a heart, we need you!

Join us at the New Braunfels Heart and Stroke Walk at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 6 at Landa Park.

The event includes a family and pet-friendly 3.1 mile walk and 1-mile miracle walk. Proceeds from the event will support cardiovascular programs right here in our own community.

Click here for more information and to register!

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New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital Provides Nationally Recognized Care to Community for 5th Year in Row

For the 5th year in a row, New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital has been acknowledged for providing nationally recognized rehabilitative care to its patients. The hospital was ranked in the Top 10% of inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide for providing care that is patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“This means that in the New Braunfels area, we’re providing the highest level of rehabilitative care available anywhere in the United States right now,” says Jessie Smedley, CEO of New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “Patients and their families don’t have to leave the area to receive the latest in technology and clinical protocols – we’re providing it here in our own backyard.”

The hospital was ranked from among 781 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR). The UDSMR is a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database for medical rehabilitation outcomes.

“This national ranking speaks highly of the commitment and dedication of our employees and medical staff,” Smedley says. “Our staff is passionate about helping patients return home at their highest possible levels of productivity and independence. And for anyone who has ever as had a family member or friend needing healthcare, that matters. We consider it a privilege to be able to provide this higher standard of care to our community.”

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations, along with illnesses such as cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

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2016 Passionate Patient Caregivers of the Year

Since 2016 is coming to a close we would like to share our New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital Passionate Patient Caregivers of the Year with you!

James Rodriguez, Physical Therapist and Leslie Schmidt, Patient Care Technician, received this award for receiving the largest amount of positive reviews from patients and family members as well as the most votes from staff members. This means they are seen as outstanding clinicians as well as co-workers.

Below are reviews that patients voluntarily wrote on comment cards about James and Leslie:

One patient said about James:
“This is my second time here and I requested to have James again. He knows exactly what I needed. He always gave me encouragement to strive to do just a little bit more. I’m so grateful to James for his kind attitude towards me and his other patients.”

One Patient said about Leslie:
“She made my brother’s stay here much more productive with her positive, upbeat personality.”

In the featured interviews James and Leslie share with us a little more about their work, their personal life, and what they love about New Braunfels, Texas. Read below to learn more about what makes these two the passionate, patient caregivers that they are today.

Name: James Rodriguez

jamesrodriguez

Your Work:

What is your job title? Can you give a brief description of what your work involves and how long you have worked here?

“I am a Physical Therapist and I assist patients with regaining their independence with functional mobility (i.e. bed mobility, transfers, wheelchair mobility, and walking). I have been working with NBRRH since May 2015.”

What events lead you to where you are today at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital?

“I was initially introduced to PT following my father’s stroke in 2000. I was impressed with how the physical, speech and occupational therapists helped with his recovery. I was a clinical student with NBRRH while a student at Texas State University and was hired full-time after graduation in May 2015.”

What is one moment that has stood out to you while working at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital (an experience with a patient, a coworker going above and beyond for someone, an act of kindness)?

“There are so many moments that have stood out to me while working here. They vary from seeing a patient progress from being wheelchair bound to walking without a cane/walker, to seeing someone return to work.”

What do you most love about the work you do?

“I enjoy the interaction with patients, family, and team members. My favorite thing is building a relationship with the patients. Most of the patients that we see have experienced a life changing event and I feel that the personal relationship is just as important as the patient/therapist relationship.”

What kind of impact do you hope to have on people at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital?

“I hope to assist patients and their families to achieve their goals. I hope that I can be a positive influence on all those around me: patients, families, and co-workers.”

Personal:

Can you tell us a little about your family: spouse, kids, parents, siblings, pets, etc?

“I am married to my wife, Alyssa. We got married in 2009 after our freshman year of college and then both attended Texas State University and graduated in May 2012. I then was accepted to PT school at Texas State and began the program that summer. I have two dogs: Bo and Georgia. I have an older sister and brother. My brother is an occupational therapist. Both my wife’s family and my family live in San Antonio. We visit them all the time.”

What’s your favorite way to spend your time away from work (what are your favorite hobbies or past-times?)

“I enjoy everything about sports, both professional and college. If I’m not watching a sporting event, you would find me running throughout my neighborhood. We are Greenbay Packers fans and are even shareholders. My wife and I enjoy every sporting event. We’ve been to three NFL games and countless NBA and MLB games.”

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

“I’ve always had an interest in mathematics and science. I would want to learn to be a mathematician or a physicist. I read up on physics in my free-time.”

If you were to tell one person “Thank You” for helping me become the person I am today, who would it be and what did they do?

“I would thank both my parents for raising me and being such a positive influence throughout my life. They have taught me perseverance, compassion, and responsibility.”

New Braunfels/Community:

What is your favorite thing about New Braunfels: Your favorite place to eat, spend time with loved ones, etc?

“I like all the water areas and parks dispersed throughout New Braunfels. I look forward to spending more time at them with my family. We love to eat out and try new restaurants. We frequent Gruene Texas, and we love the proximity to the two large cities on opposite directions; Austin and San Antonio.”

What characteristic do you most admire about the people of New Braunfels (and its surrounding areas)?

“I admire the German Culture and how the heritage is carried throughout the town.”

If you could tell people one thing about New Braunfels, what would it be?

“A pork chop on a stick is a must when going to Wurstfest.”


Name: Leslie Schmidt

leslieschmidt

Your Work:

What is your job title? Can you give a brief description of what your work involves and how long you have worked here?

“I have been a Patient Care Technician (PCT) for five years, and my work involves taking care of patient’s daily and hourly needs.”

What events lead you to where you are today at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital?

“I have always enjoyed working in healthcare and taking care of people.”

What is one moment that has stood out to you while working at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital (an experience with a patient, a coworker going above and beyond for someone, an act of kindness)?

“The staff is what stands out. There are so many passionate people that work for New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital it is hard to choose a specific moment.”

What do you most love about the work you do?

“I love seeing the progress that our patients make from the day they come to the facility to the day they leave.”

What kind of impact do you hope to have on people at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital?

“I want them to know that if they work hard, anything is possible and that I am there for them every step of the way.”

Personal:

Can you tell us a little about your family: spouse, kids, parents, siblings, pets, etc.?

“I have a daughter who is 25 and a son who is 21. I’m also a dog mom to 4 Chihuahuas! As for the rest of my family, I have many siblings and a large extended family.”

What’s your favorite way to spend your time away from work (what are your favorite hobbies or past-times?)

“Spending time with my kids and family”

If you were to tell one person “Thank You” for helping me become the person I am today, who would it be and what did they do?

“My kids- they have helped me to be who I am today.”

New Braunfels/Community:

What is your favorite thing about New Braunfels: Your favorite place to eat, spend time with loved ones, etc.?

“I love the river in New Braunfels. My favorite thing to do is go to the river with friends and family, and just enjoy the day.”

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Are you at risk for a stroke? Become Stroke Smart!

Do you know what to do if someone is having a stroke?

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital invites you to a FREE community event celebrating Stroke Awareness Month.

Thursday, May 19th  from 4-6 p.m. at 2041 Sundance Parkway (at the hospital).

Learn how to prevent and detect strokes, hear survivor stories, and participate in stroke risk assessments such as blood pressure checks.

New Braunfels Mayor Pro Tem, Ron Reaves, will be present to make a proclamation declaring May as Stroke Awareness Month.

Door prizes and refreshments! R.S.V.P. to 830-643-7132

ronreaves

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IN THE NEWS: Local hospital earns national honor for fourth straight year!

There was a barbecue lunch, yard games, socializing and live music from the Zack Walther Band.

It wasn’t a scene at Gruene Hall.

It was a celebration at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, an event to mark their fourth consecutive year ranked in the top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States. The honor recognizes provision of care that is patient-centered, efficient, timely and effective.

“We’re proud to bring nationally-recognized rehabilitative care to our community for the fourth consecutive year,” NBRRH CEO Jessie Smedley said. “We’re serious about our commitment to our patients, their family members and our community — and this recognition reflects that. We’re passionate about getting the best results for our patients so they can attain the highest level of productivity and independence possible.”

top10_news

Sami Devillier was a New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung “Unsung Hero” last year for her work with the historical commission and time volunteering with the county during elections.

Having recently had a stroke, Devillier ended up at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, working to get herself back to home-ready.

She wasn’t surprised when she heard the hospital was back in the top 10 percent again.

“I’m thankful for what they’re doing,” she said, adding that she is making “great progress” and the physical therapists “are outstanding.”

Devillier said they’ve pushed her to get better quickly and it didn’t take long for her to start socializing with other patients. It’s been a positive experience, she said.

“This place is preparing me to do what I used to do (before the stroke),” she said.

At that celebration at the hospital, Kara Simpson, director of therapy, said the fourth straight year in the top 10 percent is an accomplishment for the whole staff and something that they should all be proud of — especially because how many lives they have affected in positive ways.

“It’s very humbling,” she said.

There were 200-plus staff members and others — such as family — invited.

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked out of 782 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation, a nonprofit corporation that was developed with support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a component of the U.S Department of Education.

The UDSMR is the creator and caretaker of the nation’s largest database of rehabilitation outcomes, according to their website, with 20 years of data. This is the 10th year that UDSMR has issued these awards.

The data used for the most current ranking was based on 12 months of information from 2015 from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The results were combined and weighted into a score, and each facility was then assigned a percentile rank from 0 to 100 relative to other qualifying inpatient rehabilitation facilities in UDSMR’s database.

Smedley, New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital’s CEO, says through UDSMR the hospital is also given opportunities to collaborate with peers to share information.

“This allows us to establish best practices and help elevate rehabilitative care for everyone throughout the United States,” she said.

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital treats about 730 patients every year.

The hospital provides specialized rehabilitation services to patients throughout the Hill Country area who are recovering from disabilities, whether they be caused by illnesses, injuries or chronic conditions.

This includes strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and orthopedic injures, along with illnesses such as cerebral palsy, ALS, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

 

— This is a synopsis of an Article published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung on April 16, 2016.

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Stroke and Parkinson’s Support Groups

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital hosts a Stroke Support Group and a Parkinson’s Support Group each month for both patients and their loved ones.

Stroke Support Group
New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital hosts a Stroke Support Group on the third Thursday of each month, at 5:00 p.m. This group provides problem solving, community outreach, educational programs, recreational activities, rehabilitation, and self-help for stroke patients and their loved ones. Please call (830) 625-6700 if you have any questions.

 

Parkinson’s Support Group
The Comal County Parkinson’s Support Group meets on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month from 9:30-11:00 a.m. in the cafeteria at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. Please call (830) 625-6700 if you have any questions.

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New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital Spreads Christmas Cheer to Community

In December, the staff of New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital participated in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. This program provides Christmas gifts for children of families in need through the support of donors like New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. This year, New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital provided gifts to 40 children in our community.

tree

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New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital Earns Advanced Stroke Certification

Award signifies hospital’s dedication to better results for stroke patients.

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital recently received The Joint Commission’s disease-specific certification for stroke rehabilitation, which signifies the hospital’s dedication to developing better results for stroke patients. The award was given after a rigorous on-site review by an expert evaluator.

“This award recognizes how committed we are and how well we provide rehabilitation following a stroke,” says Jennifer Malatek, Chief Executive Officer at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “We want to provide hope and quality of life to our community members who have experienced this debilitating event. For many, it’s their only chance at returning back to families, friends and daily routines.”

Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

Certification through the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Program is voluntary and available only to stroke programs in Join Commission-accredited acute care hospitals. Certification requirements address three core areas:

  • Compliance with consensus-based national standards.
  • Effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care.
  • Organized approach to performance measurement and improvement activities.

“Stroke continues to be highly prevalent in our community and often is a life changing event for the stroke survivor and his or her family,” Malatek says. “We feel it’s our obligation and privilege to continue to improve services to stroke survivors in New Braunfels and its surrounding areas.”

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitative services to more than 1,800 patients a year. The hospital treats patients who are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries or illnesses, such as strokes, orthopedic, brain and spinal cord injuries. The hospital also treats individuals with chronic illnesses such as cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease.

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National Rehab Awareness Week

The week salutes the determination of patients, applauds the efforts of rehabilitation professionals and provides education and awareness about rehabilitation services.

“Rehabilitation is an integral part of the healthcare process that helps patients to improve their quality of life and reduce subsequent illnesses or problems,” said Jennifer Malatek, CEO of New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “The goal of rehabilitation is to help a person attain the highest level of functioning possible — physically and cognitively. “For some, this may mean learning to walk again or how to maneuver a wheelchair. For others, it may mean learning how to communicate with loved ones.” Patients who receive rehabilitative services often experience positive results in regaining or improving productivity and independence.

A recent national study shows that patients treated in inpatient rehabilitation facilities have better long-term results than those treated in other facilities. The study, which was commissioned by the ARA Research Institute, shows that patients treated in rehabilitation hospitals live longer, have less hospital and ER visits and remain longer in their homes without additional outpatient services. Statistics also show rehabilitation can save money. For example, for every $1 spent on rehabilitative care, it’s estimated $11 are saved on long-term disability costs.

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Raising Awareness of Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. It is the fifth-leading cause of death in the country, the leading cause of disability and one out of six people will suffer a stroke in his or her lifetime. Despite these numbers, many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern — and, according to the American Stroke Association, one in three Americans is unable to identify the stroke warning signs — known as F.A.S.T.

The acronym stands for:
F — Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop down?
A — Arm weakness: Ask the person to lift their arms. Does one drift downward?
S — Speech difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time to call 911: If the person has any of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately. The person could be having a stroke.

Stroke can happen to anyone at any time re- gardless of race, sex or age,” said Dr. Maria Lomba, medical director of New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.Yet, despite the tremendous toll stroke takes, the vast majority of Americans don’t think of stroke as a major health concern.

Lomba and New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, along with countless other hospitals, medical institutions and health professionals in Texas and around the country, are asking community members to become “Stroke Heroes” by learning the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs so they can recognize a stroke and act quickly.

Each May, the ASA and the American Heart Association recognize American Stroke Month by rallying the nation around the cause.

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Recognized in the Top 10% of Inpatient Rehabilitation

New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital ranked in the top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States for the 3rd year in a row!

The ranking is by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR), a not-for-profit corporation that was developed with support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation research, a component of the U.S. Department of Education.

The UDSMR ranks rehabilitation facilities based upon care that is:

  1. Patient-Centered
  2. Effective
  3. Efficient
  4. Timely

This means that through services at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, our patients are receiving the highest level of rehabilitative care available nationally without having to leave the area!

 

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