Friday 20 October 2017

Two articles published from the Nottingham Fatigue After Stroke (NOTFAST) study shed light on what it's like to have fatigue six months after a stroke.

Published in the journal 'Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation', the first article reports the six-month follow-up results to the NOTFAST study. NOTFAST had recruited 371 participants from four stroke units in the UK, and 213 participants returned questionnaires.

The responses show that half reported fatigue at six months post-stroke. Of those 88 participants reporting fatigue initially after their stroke, 69% continued to report fatigue. New (‘de novo’) fatigue was reported by 38% of those participants not fatigued initially after their stroke.

Reduced independence in activities of daily living and higher anxiety levels were also associated with the level of fatigue. The researchers conclude that persistent and delayed onset fatigue may affect stroke survivors’ independence and participation in their rehabilitation and that these findings should be used to inform the development of appropriate interventions.

Published in the 'International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation', the second article reports on the day-to-day experiences of 25 of the participants who took part in NOTFAST. The participants were interviewed about their experiences and analysis of the interviews highlighted six key themes:

  • diverse descriptions of post-stroke fatigue
  • daily impact of fatigue
  • factors found to exacerbate fatigue
  • self-management strategies for fatigue
  • causes of fatigue
  • lack of information and advice received on fatigue.

The researchers conclude that these stroke survivors felt ill-equipped for the day-to-day impact of fatigue on their lives and often struggled to adapt. There is a need for improved information provision and educational interventions to equip staff and prepare stroke survivors for the impact of fatigue. The insights from this study should be used to inform the development of management techniques and interventions to reduce the impact of post-stroke fatigue.

About the researcher

Avril Drummond is Professor of Healthcare Research and Director of Research for the School of Health Sciences, at the University of Nottingham. She's an occupational therapist by professional background and a rehabilitation researcher with an interest in randomised controlled trials. She was Chair of the UK Stroke Forum from 2015 to 2016, and is currently Outgoing Chair for 2017.

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