Just one in three young stroke survivors return to work

By June Shannon Policy News   |   23rd Apr 2018

Survey paints a bleak picture of life for younger stroke survivors in Ireland

Monday 23 April 2018

JUST one in three young stroke survivors (under 65) return to work in the first-year post stroke and many lack access to vital recovery services such as physiotherapy and counselling, a new survey has revealed.

According to a survey of working age stroke survivors carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation to mark National Stroke Survivor Day (Tuesday April 24th), the vast majority of young stroke survivors or 95 per cent reported suffering from anxiety due to their stroke, 75 per cent felt depressed, 77 per cent angry and 72 per cent felt isolated.

It is estimated that one in four stroke sufferers in Ireland are aged under 65 and the 2016 Irish Heart Foundation/HSE National Stroke Audit 2016 showed a 26 per cent increase in the rate of younger stroke since the previous audit in 2008.

 

one in four stroke sufferers in Ireland are aged under 65

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The findings also revealed that almost half or 44 per cent of those who needed physiotherapy had to go private to access services or received no service at all and 71 per who required counselling either received no service at all or their needs were not fully met.

Even though 88 per cent were working before their stroke, just 36 per cent were employed post stroke and 70 per cent have experienced a significant fall in income since their stroke. Almost two-thirds of those now with jobs were working part-time. Many also highlighted additional costs such as for medication, transport and heating as also contributing to high levels of financial hardship.

Almost half or 44 per cent of those who needed physiotherapy had to go private to access services or received no service at all

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The survey paints a bleak picture of life for younger stroke survivors in Ireland and according to Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation, Chris Macey, “this study underlines the alarming extent to which younger stroke survivors are struggling to get their lives back on track after leaving hospital and how little help many are getting to deal with the often profound physical and psychological impact of their brain attack.”

“The improvements in stroke services in recent years have been achieved within the hospital system. This has resulted in thousands of additional lives being saved. But there has been no corresponding investment in community rehabilitation services, so stroke survivors’ recoveries are being squandered, with younger people particularly falling off the radar in terms of services,” he added.

“In spite of the rapid surge in younger stroke, little or no effort is being made to reflect this changing demographic in the delivery of services back in the community,” said Mr Macey.

There are now more than 2,000 strokes a year in Ireland among people of working age and it’s time we stopped writing them off

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation

“If you have a stroke in your 30s, you might live with its effects for half a century. But any homecare package you get will almost certainly be designed to meet the needs of an older person.

“Indeed, the care needs of the vast majority of young stroke survivors are dealt with by the branch of HSE services that deals with older people – a fact that 70 per cent of those surveyed with homecare packages said made them angry or annoyed.”

The findings also revealed that 92 per cent of young stroke survivors experienced fatigue but almost three-quarters did not get adequate help to deal with its effects. In addition, over four in five respondents said their relationships with loved ones had been affected by their stroke.

“Having a stroke is a devastating experience, but the impact on many people is being exacerbated by an absence of expert help them on the road to recovery. There are now more than 2,000 strokes a year in Ireland among people of working age and it’s time we stopped writing them off and provide the helping hand they so desperately need,” Mr Macey stated.

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