People with mild stroke falling through the cracks

By June Shannon Stroke News   |   24th Apr 2019

Just 48 per cent of people with mild stroke return to work in one year – Irish Heart Foundation stroke professionals conference hears.

People who have suffered a mild stroke are living with a range of “hidden and unexpected” difficulties and have very limited access to rehabilitation, attendees at the Irish Heart Foundation Council on Stroke 22nd Annual Stroke Conference, which took place in Croke Park in Dublin, earlier this month, were told.

Addressing the conference on persisting challenges after mild stroke, Ms Anne Connolly, Senior Occupational Therapist at University Hospital Galway, said that despite having excellent physical function, just 48 per cent of people with mild stroke return to work in one year and this drops to just 42 per cent at five years.

“Although we are seeing people with excellent functional outcomes in the acute service, they are going home and they are not returning to their high-level activities of daily living,” she said.

She explained that mild stroke was typically described as “a stroke with no or only slight functional impairment or a high level of independence in personal activities of daily living.”

“Although we are seeing people with excellent functional outcomes in the acute service, they are going home and they are not returning to their high-level activities of daily living,”

Ms Anne Connolly, Senior Occupational Therapist, University Hospital Galway

According to Ms Connolly, approximately half or 50 per cent of stokes are mild.

She said international literature has shown that just 13 per cent of mild stroke survivors receive any rehabilitation at all despite that fact that they are living with a range of difficulties including cognitive dysfunction, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance and balance problems.

Research has also shown that those who are able to return to work after a mild stroke are living with a fear of work sustainability, feelings of failure and not belonging, and a lack of support. They also felt they were a significant burden on their spouse or perceived care giver, she explained.

Ms Connolly said there was a lot we didn’t know about supporting people who had had a mild stroke however, she added that interventions needed to move from from secondary prevention only to addressing post mild stroke sequela at a participation/occupational level.

" It is estimated that the burden of stroke in Ireland will increase by 59 per cent by 2035,"

Mr Tim Collins, CEO , The Irish Heart Foundation

The Irish Heart Foundation Council on Stroke 22nd Annual Stroke Conference was opened by Mr Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation.

Mr Collins said, “It is estimated that the burden of stroke in Ireland will increase by 59 per cent by 2035 but lack of investment means that services are already under intense pressure, despite the extraordinary commitment of stroke care teams countrywide.”

He added that it was vital that the imminent national stroke strategy, “provides a blueprint to address both current and future deficits in acute rehabilitation and community care for stroke survivors.”

“In addition to a good plan including all the areas addressed in our stroke manifesto, we hope that the minister will meet his commitment to the Irish Heart Foundation to provide multiannual funding to execute the strategy. Given the failure to meet the undertaking to support a new FAST Campaign along with the long struggle to secure funds for even essential equipment to deliver lifesaving thrombectomy we are concerned as to whether this commitment will be met,” Mr Collins said.

The well attended Irish Heart Foundation conference for stroke professionals was addressed by several international and national experts in stroke care and was supported by Pfizer, Bayer, Daiichi-Sankyo, IPSEN and Beechfield Healthcare.

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