New digital health service launches for young stroke survivors

Around 18 Australians aged 18-45 have a stroke every day – the Young Stroke Service aims to better meet the specific needs of this age group.

The Florey will today launch Australia’s first health service providing personalised clinical care and additional long-term support to young people with stroke in Victoria.

It comes after six years of research into the unmet needs and challenges faced by young stroke survivors. The service has been designed and informed by a team of experts in rehabilitation, neurology, general practice, accessibility and digital health service innovation – and, at its centre, young people who have experienced stroke.

The Young Stroke Service, which will be expanding to South Australia in the coming months, aims to create a new model of care that supports young people once they leave hospital with their recovery and life goals. Common unmet needs the service aims to address include:

  • Getting back to work and driving
  • Help with memory and cognitive problems
  • Connecting with peers and supporting relationships
Professor Julie Berhardt is wearing a white top and is pointing at a laptop screen that says Young Stroke Screening Tool.
Julie Bernhardt shows the Young Stroke Service Screening tool to a young person.

Professor Julie Bernhardt, who leads this service at The Florey with Professor Vincent Thijs, said the Young Stroke Service will address gaps that exist for young people to help them navigate a pathway to a better future.

“The health system we have for people who have experienced stroke is geared towards older people, leaving younger people and their needs behind. Young people tell us that leaving hospital feels like ‘being dropped from a plane without a parachute’ – we aim to change that experience,” says Professor Bernhardt.

“Every stroke is different and that also means that each person’s recovery is unique to them. But we know that young people want to live a full life after stroke and need a service that puts them at the centre.”

An important element of the service includes research to better understand why young people have stroke and how to prevent further stroke, says stroke neurologist Professor Vincent Thijs.

“When young people experience stroke there is a tendency for clinicians to assume it is something else, leading to missed diagnoses and wrong or delayed treatments,” says Professor Thijs.

“While stroke is increasingly common in younger people, we don’t understand the reasons behind why up to half of these strokes happen. Our research within this service will improve how we diagnose and treat stroke in this age group.”

Federal Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney MP, will be marking the launch of the Young Stroke Service at The Florey’s launch event today. It comes a year after the service received $10 million from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

If you would like to take part in the Young Stroke Service, go to the Transforming healthcare for young adults with stroke page for more information.