New Stroke Recovery Program

Readjusting to life after stroke could be less daunting

The National Stroke Association has just released results of a pilot study for a new Stroke Recovery Navigator Program (SRN.) The Stroke Recovery Navigator Program is a support program for stroke survivors that was designed by the National Stroke Association with a roll out planned for 2017.

Challenges in Stroke Recovery

The purpose of the new program is to help stroke survivors and their caregivers adjust to life after a stroke and overcome the usual barriers to a healthy recovery.

Because a stroke is such a life-changing event, stroke survivors often encounter a number of challenges, particularly in the months after return home from the hospital. One of the most common, yet relatively easy to overcome, difficulties for a stroke survivor and family is the lack of familiarity with new medications and sometimes confusion about how to take new medications. This interferes with optimal recovery, as medications prescribed to control stroke risk factors are a vital component to preventing another stroke.

Lifestyle is particularly hampered after a stroke, when many stroke survivors become unable to drive, making it difficult to get around for errands, for social visits, and for leisure activities. Despite the support structure that is available for stroke survivors in most cities and suburbs, the majority of survivors and their caregivers are not even aware of these amenities.

When stroke survivors and their families do not know how to identify and utilize the available services, they cannot benefit from all of the local services that are already in place, such as transportation, disability services, handicap accessibility or food assistances. This interferes with adjustment and quality of life after a stroke.

Using these built-in benefits can enhance a stroke survivor’s abilities to re-adjust to life after returning home.

Furthermore, stroke survivors and caregivers who have simple questions about stroke recovery, assistive devices, stroke medications, return to work and the interpersonal issues that arise after a stroke, often do not know where to turn. The trained navigators who interact with stroke survivors as part of the Stroke Navigator Program are a resource to help ease all of these issues.

Stroke Recovery Navigator Program

Beginning in 2014, 89 stroke survivors were enrolled in the program to evaluate whether or not the intervention would be effective for patients. Support included a telephone-based program geared to providing help with medication management, confronting relationship problems, identifying community services for transportation and other needs and helping with adapting to daily living. The telephone support began at 2 months after discharge from the hospital or rehabilitation facility and continued through 6 months after discharge.

The National Stroke Association presented results of the program at the 2016 International Stroke Conference. Overall, patients and caregivers who participated in the Stroke Recovery Navigator Program reported satisfaction with the program and with their adjustment after a stroke. Participants had an overall 13 percent rate of return to the hospital for any cause, compared to the national average of 49 percent re-hospitalization after a stroke. And, fully 90 percent of participants reported that they were taking medications as directed, a number that is substantially higher than expected after a stroke. Participants reported an overall 95 percent satisfaction with the program, and 88 percent of participants said that the program made them feel better equipped to make decisions about their health.

The Future of the Stroke Recovery Navigator Program 

Due to the results of this type of personalized post-stroke telephone support, the National Stroke Association is researching strategies to expand the program. The most likely source of support will be through hospitals that could participate in providing the support structure modeled by the stroke recovery navigator program.

Sources

National Stroke Association

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