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Stroke patients likely to suffer poor health due to lack of rehab services, says report

Rehab could be vital for helping survivors with movement, speech, strength and daily living skills



Hundreds of stroke survivors in the UK could suffer poor health amid struggles to access rehab care, a new report reveals.

Without access to rehab services, experts say stroke survivors trying to recover are likely to struggle, with some developing other health conditions as a result.

The report by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says millions of people in marginalised communities, including those from ethnic minorities, are more likely to live shorter lives and spend a greater proportion of their lives dealing with various health conditions.

Rehab services aiming to tackle those inequities are either unavailable or poorly equipped to help those in need, the report warns, highlighting that “some communities face particular barriers”.

“Rehabilitation services have been under-resourced for decades and were not designed coherently in the first place,” Prof Karen Middleton, the chief executive of the CSP, told the Guardian.

“This has exacerbated poor health outcomes, particularly for people from marginalised groups. It’s not only the individual who suffers. Without adequate access to rehabilitation, health conditions worsen to the point where more and more pressure is eventually piled on struggling local health systems and other public services.

“We desperately need a modernised recovery and rehabilitation service that adequately supports patients following a health crisis and prevents other conditions developing.”

Other patients at risk include those who suffered heart attacks or those diagnosed with cancer.

Depending on the parts of the brain affected by the stroke, rehabilitation could be vital for helping survivors with movement, speech, strength, daily living skills and quality of life.

Equally important in rehabilitation is to protect the individual from developing new medical problems, including pneumonia, urinary tract infections, injury due to fall, or a clot formation in large veins.

Research shows the most effective neuro-rehab programmes must be customised to practice those skills impaired due to the stroke, such as weakness, lack of coordination, problems walking, loss of sensation, problems with hand grasp, visual loss, or trouble speaking or understanding in order to help survivors gain independence.