New Florey research helps shape better care for young stroke survivors

Research at the Florey Institute has brought the unique needs of young stroke survivors into focus, building a greater understanding among clinicians and health care providers which can improve the care and treatment given to young people who live with stroke.

Led by The Florey’s Professor Julie Bernhardt AM, Co-head of Stroke Research, and PhD student Jessica Keating, the team implemented an online screening tool and questionnaire that was co-developed between researchers and with young people who had experienced a stroke.

Over 170 participants from Australia, Europe and North America took part in the survey. The findings demonstrated that current approaches to treating people who had experienced stroke befitted an older age group and often exclude younger survivors. Study respondents indicated a lack of clear and reliable information about young stroke and health outcome.

“The information collected through this study clearly identifies areas in need of improvement and provides the catalyst to develop alternative methods of meeting young stroke survivors’ needs, many of which are not resource intensive and highly achievable,” said Professor Bernhardt.

Professor Julie Bernhardt AM

The team’s research uncovered that the majority of respondents sought face-to-face contact with a healthcare professional as their preferred method of care. Alternative methods such as peer support and learning resources in fact sheets, articles and tips were also brought to light as additional way to meet care requirements.

The research revealed that the gap in available information on the experiences of young stroke can lead to an emotional toll. Many young people who had experienced stroke reported feeling that others do not understand their experiences with implications on their sense of identity, relationships and emotional well-being. Many also reported enduring strain on their relationships due to communication difficulties, a change in relationship dynamic and sexual difficulties.

“We hope our work enables clinicians and care providers to implement the tools and resources required to create a more inclusive approach to treatment for all people who experience stroke going forward,” added Professor Bernhardt.

The study was published in the Journal of Neurology.

The Florey would like to thank everyone who donated to our end of financial year tax appeal which shared our latest research in young stroke and the story of Liah Tournas who experienced stroke at age 21. Your generosity and belief in a healthier, more resilient future for younger Australians who experience stroke allows our researchers to continue their work in this important area and make a difference to people’s lives.