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A Need of Palliative Care For Stroke Patients

A new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) concluded that patient suffering from the stroke should be given caring focused not only on physical rehabilitation but also on the social and emotional issues faced by them.

“Rather than focusing only on physical rehabilitation, a realistic approach to managing care should consider the emotional needs of patients and their caregivers,” says Dr. Scott Murray, Primary Palliative Care Research Group, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. “Balancing the need for hope of recovery with the potential of severe disability or death is important in this approach.”

A stroke is a brain attack in which the vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain are cut off. The stroke happens when a blood vessel feeding the brain gets clogged or bursts. All over the world, stroke is the second leading cause of death. Survival is especially poor for people who have had a severe total anterior circulation stroke with loss of motor control, language and other conditions.

During their research, author investigated the severe stroke condition in  219 patients in central Scotland and viewed at their  experiences, concerns and priorities of patients, families and healthcare professionals in the 12 months after stroke and observed that in the first 6 months, 57% (125 people) died, with 1-year fatality of 60% (132 deaths.) About two-thirds (67%) of deaths occurred within the first month after stroke. They also found that

Researchers found that patients and their families reported grief over the loss of their previous life, anxiety among caregivers over whether they were “doing the right thing,” uncertainty about the future and confusion about prognosis. As well, the term “palliative care” was interpreted negatively by many health care providers, families Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

“Many patients and informal caregivers would have welcomed more support in making decisions and in planning for the future from day one,” writes Dr. Murray with coauthors. “The focus was on active rehabilitation, recovery, motivation, and hope, with much less discussion and preparation for limited recovery.”

The authors suggest that the palliative care should be given to people to live well with deteriorating health and making them comfortable until their eventual death.

According to  Dr. Jessica Simon, Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, writes “the challenging questions for physicians and other healthcare providers should not be, ‘What shall we call it?’ or ‘Who should receive palliative care?’; the questions for each patient who is facing the challenges associated with the life-threatening illness should be, ‘Am I providing the palliative care support my patient needs?’ and ‘Is there access to sufficient specialist palliative care resources in my community if needed?’.”

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