Definition of a stroke unit

Stroke unit care

Several different definitions of a stroke unit have been used. The definition used in the Swedish national stroke guidelines published by the National Board of Health and Welfare1 is based on definitions agreed upon by the Stroke Unit Trialists’ Collaboration2, 3and the European Stroke Initiative4.

  • A stroke unit is an organized in-hospital facility that entirely (or next to entirely) is devoted to care for patients with stroke. It is staffed by a multidisciplinary team with special knowledge in stroke care.

The characteristics of a stroke unit (with evidence level 1;2) are: It is a geographically identifiable unit in a hospital devoted entirely (or next to entirely) to stroke care.

  • Its staff has expert knowledge in stroke and rehabilitation. In Sweden, there are educational programs leading to a stroke competence certification5.
  • It is staffed by a multidisciplinary team that meets at least once a week. The team consists of physician(s), nurse(s), assistant nurse(s), physiotherapists(s), occupational therapist(s), social worker(s) and speech therapist and has access to a dietician and a psychologist, preferably with a neuropsychological profile.
  • It provides detailed information and educates patients and next-of-kins during the hospital stay
  • It has established a program for interventions to meet common stroke patient problems and for recording of the quality of care.
  • It is concerned with immediate mobilization and early rehabilitation after stroke.


  1. Socialstyrelsen. Nationella riktlinjer för strokesjukvård [National guidelines for stroke care]. 2009
  2. Langhorne P, Pollock A. What are the components of effective stroke unit care? Age Ageing. 2002;31:365-371
  3. Stroke Unit Trialists’ Collaboration CDoSR. Organised inpatient (stroke unit) care for stroke. . Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007
  4. European Stroke Organisation (ESO) Executive Committee, ESO Writing Committee. Guidelines for management of ischaemic stroke and transient ischaemic attack 2008. Cerebrovasc Dis. 2008;25:457-507 
  5. Britton M. Över 900 med olika vårdyrken har fått kompetensbevis för strokevård. Läkartidningen. 1999;96:2232-2234