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Emotional Toll of Stroke as Critical as Physical Impact

🕑 2 minutes read
Posted May 1, 2013

Recent research in the United Kingdom surveyed over 2,700 stroke survivors on their emotional well-being and coping with their new post-stroke existence. The BBC reported on the survey—Feeling Overwhelmed by the Stroke Association—concluding that the majority of stroke survivors felt that they did not receive sufficient emotional support as part of the stroke recovery process.

The Stroke Association found that of stroke survivors:

  • Half said that they experienced depression.
  • Two-thirds said they experienced anxiety.
  • 80% experienced anxiety and frustration.
  • And 42% “felt they had been abandoned after their physical needs had been seen to.”

Problems with emotional regulation are common for stroke survivors, but most therapies focus only on the physical aspect of the disability. Since so many people are now dealing with life after stroke, it is more important than ever that therapy addresses both their physical and emotional needs.

In the UK, 152,000 people are affected by stroke annually (the UK has a population of about 63 million); it is the largest cause of disability in adults in the UK. In addition to the annual counts, there are a million stroke survivors in the UK overall, in part due to the fact that people are living longer. In the United States, every year approximately 795,000 experience a stroke (out of a total population of around 313,850,000), with 600,000 being a first stroke—the rest are recurrent attacks.

Survivors of strokes report increased difficulty in caring for family members, a change in how they are treated by people they know, and being frustrated by an inability to express themselves as they once did. They also generally reported that they did not feel they were receiving good emotional support.

Stroke Association chief executive Jon Barrick commented, “Stroke leaves survivors and families shocked, shaken and anxious as their lives are often irreversibly changed in an instant. Better recognition by health and social care professionals of the impact of stroke will help people to be properly assessed and get the right support.”

Those interested in learning how iLs can help those who have experienced a stroke, please see the following case study and interview:

Volume 3, Issue 2, March 2011 – Interview with Amy Dubey, OTR/L

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