Toronto (June 12, 2010) - Toronto Rehab's Stroke Service is one of the first stroke rehabilitation programs in Canada to earn Stroke Services Distinction from Accreditation Canada. Stroke Services Distinction is awarded to health organizations that meet or exceed the best standards of stroke care.

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"We are excited and honoured to be recognized in this way," says Dr. Mark Bayley, medical director of Toronto Rehab's Neuro Rehabilitation Program "We are always striving for excellence and improved outcomes for our stroke patients, and it is so important to have peers from outside the organization assess how we measure up against best practice standards."

This award is the first disease-specific accreditation program in Canada and recognizes leadership, clinical excellence, and innovation in stroke care.

Today's announcement was made at the Canadian Stroke Congress 2010 in Quebec City.

Foothills Medical Centre, in Calgary, Alberta, is the other hospital recognized by Accreditation Canada. 

The hospital's stroke team underwent a rigorous evaluation process during its onsite accreditation distinction review last month. As part of Accreditation Canada's survey, Toronto Rehab's Stroke Service showcased one of its innovative initiatives called the EPIC project (Empowering Patients in Community Reintegration), which incorporates three approaches to getting people back home after their stroke: early supported discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, telephone follow-up and new models of outpatient therapy.

"Our experience with EPIC has taught us how to overcome the challenges a person faces when returning to their community after a stroke. This model may have potential benefits for other rehabilitation programs in Canada," says Ramona Mileris, manager of Toronto Rehab's Stroke Service.

Navid Rahayi, 52, is just one patient who has benefitted from the EPIC project. After suffering a stroke earlier this year, Navid had limited mobility in his right arm and had trouble speaking. What made it worse was that Navid, who had been diagnosed with clinical depression prior to his stroke, found that the stroke had exacerbated his depression and made the control of his emotions even more difficult. But within a few days of his admission to the program, Navid was participating in his therapy sessions.

"The nurses were so kind to me. They knew I was very upset by my condition and they did everything they could to make me feel comfortable and encourage me to participate in my rehab," says Navid.

He even worked with his medical team to better manage his depression medications and was socializing with others more comfortably – something he was not always comfortable doing before his stroke.

After spending four weeks as an inpatient in the Neuro Program, Navid was able to return home and is now an outpatient participating in group sessions for stroke survivors.  

Navid continues to make great progress recovering from his stroke and clinical depression. He cycles everyday, walks his dog three times a day and is looking forward to having his driver's license reinstated. He is even considering returning to the workforce, something he hasn't done in years.

"I feel stronger every day," adds Navid.

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