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Stroke patients undergoing an intensive ‘boot camp’ rehabilitation program supported by The Hospital Research Foundation Group are experiencing results that are exceeding the initial expectations of the program, preliminary data has shown.
The innovative stroke recovery clinic is free for participants and run by physiotherapy students from the University of South Australia. It helps stroke survivors needing ongoing rehabilitation in their arms and hands, and addresses a demand for recovery services after hospital-based rehabilitation has finished.
Physiotherapist and UniSA senior lecturer Dr Brenton Hordacre (below left with patient Adrian) says preliminary data suggests the program has been highly effective and there are now plans for expanded services.
“Our initial results show that improvements to patients’ upper limb function are almost three times the clinically meaningful change score we use to measure arm recovery,” Dr Hordacre said.
“We’re also finding that patients are really enjoying the intensive rehab – and want to do more.
Dr Hordacre said in response to this success, his team is considering expanding the intensive program to a supervised `drop-in’ program.
“The best available evidence for upper-limb recovery points towards more practice,” he said.
“Stroke patients themselves have identified that they want more intense and longer duration of therapy, to try to restore their arm movements.
“Practically, this might mean they can grasp a coffee mug or bring a fork to their mouth during mealtimes, rather than rely on their unaffected limb.
“Thanks to the grant, we can meet this need and establish a dedicated upper-limb stroke recovery service for community patients that will deliver intensive, high-dose therapy.”
Because of the student-led program, the service has been delivered at a lower cost to patients and they are also provided with home-based exercises and take-home kits.
Executive Director of The Hospital Research Foundation Group’s Stroke charity, Olivia Nassaris, said an $80,000 grant was provided to support the clinic.
“There is a huge need for more rehabilitation both for the early and later stages of stroke recovery,” Ms Nassaris said.
“Up to 65 per cent of patients have persistent upper-limb impairment and are unable to incorporate their paretic hand in their daily activities.
“Other studies worldwide have shown that greater improvement can be achieved with higher doses of therapy, so we are very excited about putting this into practice for our clients and positioning South Australia as a leader in stroke recovery.”
Have you or a loved one experienced stroke affecting arm movement? Enquire here about participating in the program.