Reports on Canadians' Stroke Health

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Stroke Report 2013: There is life after stroke

Posted: June 2013

Heart and Stroke Foundation report highlights role of family caregivers in helping survivors recover

More Canadians are surviving strokes due to advances in awareness and medical services but a new report (PDF) by the Heart and Stroke Foundation reveals that more than one-third of Canadians mistakenly believe that the recovery period is limited to a few months.

Stroke recovery is a journey that can continue for years or a lifetime, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation 2013 Stroke Report, which outlines the importance of family caregivers in the process. A poll* carried out for the report reveals that half of Canadians are directly touched by stroke and even more striking, that one in five Canadians have been involved in the support and care of a stroke survivor. Survivors like Janel (watch her story below) know just how much that support means.

As the population continues to age, more Canadians will be living with the effects of stroke, says Ian Joiner, Director, Stroke, Heart and Stroke Foundation. “Recovery can continue for years, and many Canadians find themselves supporting stroke survivors through that recovery journey. The urgency and need for action is clear.”

Stroke’s impact by the numbers

  • 50,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – one every 10 minutes.
  • 315,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke. 
  • 60 per cent of people who have a stroke report that they need help afterwards.
  • Stroke costs the Canadian economy $3.6 billion a year.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability among adults.

Research advances drive recovery
“We need rehabilitation research to better understand the difficulties someone is having after a stroke and then develop the treatments to help them get better,” says physiatrist Dr. Sean Dukelow, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary and a Heart and Stroke Foundation-funded researcher who uses robotics to help stroke survivors recover. “We use a robotic model – a large robotic chair – that helps measure a patient's improvement over time and helps deliver therapy. It can require tens of thousands of repetitions of a particular movement to relearn how to do it after stroke and the robot helps determine the type and intensity of the rehabilitation needed.”

Caregivers play a critical role
The role that relatives or close friends of stroke survivors carry out is essential to the recovery journey. They help survivors relearn routine activities, regain abilities, cope with challenges and do things the survivors cannot do for themselves. They also become navigators of the healthcare system and advocates for services and follow-up.

Advances mean hope
The story of stroke is not over. Stroke is preventable. Stroke is treatable. And recovery from stroke is possible. For stroke survivors and their loved ones, continued advances in rehabilitation and recovery mean real hope for a better future. There is life after stroke.

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