Tuesday 30 June 2015

It's estimated that about 60% of all stroke survivors are left with visual problems after their stroke.  These can be poorly described by patients, particularly where they have communication and cognitive problems are their stroke too.

Published online (ahead of print) in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation, a new study suggests that improved stroke and vision care can be provided in the UK, and at relatively little cost.

Dr Fiona Rowe is Reader in Health Services Research at the University of Liverpool, and led the study funded by the Stroke Association and Thomas Pocklington Trust.

She and her colleagues identified examples of high quality care provided by established stroke vision services from across fourteen NHS Trusts in the UK.  

Twenty-four healthcare professionals were selected from these services and interviewed using a semi-structured format called “SWOT” which stands for Strengths, Weaknessess, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths identified in the services included

  • training provided for stroke team staff
  • lay summaries and information sheets provided to patients
  • patients assessed on the stroke unit with continued follow-up
  • initial visual assessments made within 1 week of stroke onset

Weaknesses identified in the services included

  • lack of funding
  •  time consuming retraining of stroke staff because of staff rotation and changes

Opportunities identified in the services included

  • included increasing the number or length of orthoptic (vision screening) sessions and training of stroke staff

Perceived threats to the services related to

  • funding
  • increased appointment waiting times

Overall, what does this research show?

  • It highlights practical elements for improved stroke and vision care which can be put into practice at relatively little cost.
  • It suggests that integrated vision services within stroke units can improve the detection of visual problems in stroke survivors leading to earlier visual rehabilitation.  
  • It also suggests that orthoptists (vision screening specialists) within core stroke teams are beneficial to the delivery of a high quality service

The same researchers recently published an additional study in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, the focus of which was to highlight the inequalities that exist between vision care services for stroke in the UK.   Both peer-reviewed research studies relate to the report, "Care provision and unmet need for post stroke visual impairment" which was published in March 2014 and can be found on the Stroke Association website here.

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