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Virtual visits shrink the distance in stroke rehab
Date:6/6/2010

Quebec City − Telemedicine holds the key to the rehabilitation of people with stroke living in northern, rural, remote Canadian communities, rehabilitation researcher Esm French told the Canadian Stroke Congress today.

"Bringing stroke care to an area the size of France is a massive challenge especially when many communities lack year round road access," says French. "The unique conditions of northern communities require a unique response from the stroke rehabilitation community."

Those living in many northern communities which include many Aboriginal residents − have limited, if any, access to stroke rehabilitation, says French, who works at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and is a professional associate with the School of Rehabilitation Studies at McMaster University.

French and her colleagues, physiotherapist Kirsti Reinikka and Dr. Maria Huijbregts, tested the use of telemedicine applications to make consultations with rehabilitation providers available to stroke survivors in these remote areas.

Over a five month period, 10 video consultations took place between stroke survivors and an interdisciplinary team of rehab experts which included a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a speech-language pathologist, and a social worker.

The stroke survivors had been discharged from hospital to communities in Northwestern Ontario where access to rehabilitation is severely limited or altogether absent. "The video technology removes the distance barrier and provides a practical alternative when direct services are not available," says French. "The experience was rated good-to-excellent by both patients and rehabilitation therapists."

The healthcare, community, and telemedicine partnerships were critical to the success of the program.

"The innovative use of telemedicine technology can overcome geographic and human resource barriers restricting access to care by the Abo
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Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser
jfraser@hsf.ca
613-569-4361 x273
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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