Fellow: Emma Patchwood
After a stroke, many patients can experience difficulties thinking and understanding. They may have problems with memory, perception, problem-solving, planning, attention, language and so on. These problems are known as cognitive impairments.
Cognitive impairments after stroke can affect people’s confidence and mood as well as their ability to recover. At present, we do not know how best to rehabilitate these problems. It is important that more research is carried out that will help us understand how to rehabilitate cognitive functions.
An important part of understanding whether rehabilitation is effective is to have appropriate tools that measure outcomes. Currently, available outcome measures can be:
• Too long and tiring for patients to complete;
• Too focused on only one aspect of the problem (cognitive impairments influence many aspects of everyday living);
• Too broadly focused on overall general health status (missing important aspects of how cognitive impairments impact patients’ lives).
Perhaps a more important criticism of existing measures is that they are often designed by clinicians or researchers. Patients and carers are best placed to comment on the impact of cognitive problems and on what makes effective rehabilitation. However, they are rarely involved in designing outcome measures.
The aim of this research is to develop and test a simple yet widely-applicable outcome measure for evaluating cognitive rehabilitation after stroke. Consultation with patients and carers will shape the design and content of the measure.