Making stroke rehabilitation accessible

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in India. A team of researchers from the University of Sydney and the George Institute for Global Health is working to provide stroke patients in India with access to affordable and effective rehabilitation.

The team has tied up with 12 reputed medical institutions across the country to recruit more than 1200 stroke patients over a period of two years. 

Professor Richard Lindley from the George Institute and Sydney Medical School is leading the ATTEND program, a family-led, home-based stroke rehabilitation program.

"Stroke is a devastating disease that mainly affects younger people in countries like India and the high fatality rate  tells us that much more needs to be done," Professor Richard Lindley said.

Professor  Lindley is currently in India as part of a University of Sydney delegation visit to help develop more  partnerships between Indian institutions and the University. As part of this visit, he will be visiting Delhi, Hyderabad and Ludhiana where he will  be visiting the stroke centres and taking stock of the progress of the  ATTEND programme.   

“Traditional rehabilitation methods can be quite costly which means many people in India, particularly in rural areas,  have no access to stroke rehabilitation,’’ says Prof. Lindley, adding : ”Many stroke survivors are left with significant disability and require ongoing care. We are trialling cheap and effective interventions based on the best evidence. If successful the program could improve the patients’ and carers’ quality of life, help reduce the length of time patients spend in hospital and reduce caregiver burden.”

Approximately 1.5 million people in India suffer a stroke every year, with 500,000 people living with stroke-related  disability. It is estimated that the fatality rates of stroke sufferers is between 27 to 41 percent. 

The innovative ATTEND program will train a family member of a stroke patient so they are able to provide effective  home-based care. The pilot study that commenced earlier this year will work with 1,200 stroke patients across India. 

The ATTEND program is an example of the life-changing health research the University of Sydney and the George Institute  is currently undertaking  in  India.

Dr. Jeyaraj Pandian of Chrisitan Medical College, Ludhiana has taken the lead in this study. Other reputed institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences are also part of the study. Already 400 stroke patients have been  recruited in 11 centres. 

The results of the ATTEND trial will be presented at the World Stoke Congress to be held in Hyderabad in 2016.