National Stroke Association today released the promising results from the pilot of its Stroke Recovery Navigator℠ program (SRN)at the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles. The results underscore the value and impact of human connections, personal guidance and support in stroke recovery, to survivors and caregivers alike.

In 2014, National Stroke Association launched the pilot program to examine the use of community-based patient navigation with stroke survivors and their caregivers. The SRN program was designed as a telephone-based navigation program to engage survivors and/or their caregivers from two to six months post-discharge after a stroke. The results were dramatic:

  • Re-hospitalizations dropped to 13% from 49%, the national average for all-cause re-hospitalization.
  • 90% of participants (92% of survivors, 88% of caregivers) reported that the stroke survivor was taking medications exactly as directed.
  • 95% of participants found the SRN program to be a valuable service.
  • 85% reported that the program made them feel better equipped to make decisions about their health.

“Stroke Recovery Navigator is the only patient navigator program of its kind in the United States,” said Julia Richards, Survival Programs Manager at National Stroke  Association. “We expected positive outcomes from this pilot, but we were really amazed at how dramatic the benefits were all around – from the stroke survivors, to the caregivers, to even the hospitals. We’re excited to share these promising findings with the larger stroke community.”

A stroke leaves survivors and their caregivers without time to prepare for life after stroke. For the 795,000 people who will survive a stroke this year, the return home can mean long-term disability, isolation, confusion and for nearly half, re-hospitalization. For caregivers, the added responsibility can be overwhelming and often leads to dangerous increases in stress and anxiety.

Stroke Recovery Navigator Pilot Program: Subjects and Methods

National Stroke Association initiated a pilot of the Stroke Recovery Navigator program with the goal of reintegrating clients into their community and measuring the impact of patient navigation in the stroke community. A voice of hope for stroke survivors, SRN’s telephone support engaged survivors and caregivers, providing help with medication management, overcoming barriers, confronting relationship problems, identifying community services for such needs as transportation, and general adaptations to daily living.

During the six-month pilot program, 89 participants were included in the SRN program. Referred survivors or caregivers were contacted within three to five days, and weekly thereafter.

The program addressed the following topics:

  • barriers to care
  • adjusting to deficits from stroke
  • connection with Stroke Support Groups
  • unexpected consequences of post-stroke recovery
  • prevention of secondary stroke
  • management of stroke risk factors
  • community resources to address challenges experienced by the survivor or caregiver
  • management of post-stroke conditions
  • return to work, and
  • emotional support for adjustment to community living.

At enrollment, participants were provided with a recovery packet of information from National Stroke Association, including Hope: A Stroke Recovery Guide, as well as tools for managing stroke risk factors.

Participants reported that they valued the relationship with their Navigator and appreciated the information given to them. As stroke survivors moved through the navigation program, they reported a greater confidence in their ability to manage daily activities and assessed themselves as better able to engage with their community.

Additionally, Navigators noted that caregivers reported more satisfaction with their stroke survivors’ adjustment, leading to a reduction in their perception of the burden of care. Participating hospitals also reported satisfaction with the program. They indicated a desire to have a closer relationship with the Navigators and to get specific feedback regarding patient participation and satisfaction with the program.

“These results clearly point to the benefit of navigation services in the stroke disease state,” added Richards. “Post-discharge support is imperative to recovery. This pilot program provides important validation that more should be done in this arena to serve the stroke community.”

About National Stroke Association

Founded in 1984, National Stroke Association is the only U.S. organization focused solely on reducing the incidence and impact of stroke through prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation support for stroke survivors and caregivers.

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