Getting out of the house after stroke

11 Oct 2010 16:21:31.157
People who have become housebound after having a stroke are being invited to take part in a major new study that could help to put them back on the road to independence.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham are leading a national research project that will look at whether a new way of offering rehabilitation therapy could assist stroke patients who are keen to leave the house more but may have lost the confidence to step out on their own.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the study will involve providing some volunteer patients with a targeted rehabilitation approach and goal-based outdoor mobility programme in an attempt to improve their physical capabilities and boost their belief in their own abilities. Their achievements will then be compared to other volunteer patients who have not received the intervention to discover how they fared in comparison.

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Dr Pip Logan in the University’s Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, who is leading the study, said: “Looking at practical barriers which may be preventing people from leaving the house, such as a lack of adequate handrails on steps and garden paths, is of course very valid.

“However, it is often the psychological barriers which are the toughest to overcome. For someone who has driven all their life up until their stroke, tackling public transport can seem extremely daunting. Similarly, someone left with cognitive issues following stroke, such as memory loss or aphasia, may worry about their ability to communicate effectively while out and about.

“We are hoping that by offering a more targeted approach to therapy we can help them to develop their mobility abilities and coping strategies that will allow them get about more and become independent people once again.”

The research follows a pilot study undertaken by the team in 2004 which found that, despite rehabilitation, 42 per cent of people with a stroke wanted to get out of their house more. The randomised controlled trial offered a travel promotion programme by an occupational therapist to half of the volunteers on the study. It provided them with bespoke information, prescribing remedial exercises and equipment as needed and supporting them in their return to driving or using public transport. At the end of the four month trial, this group were twice as likely to get out and about as those who had not received this service.

The researchers are now keen to recruit more than 150 stroke patients from across Nottinghamshire to take part in the trial and have been joining forces with local authorities, health agencies and a national charity to find suitable volunteers.

Local GPs, Nottingham City Council, the Stroke Association and the NHS Nottinghamshire County primary care trust’s stroke register are playing their part in identifying patients who may have fallen through the net. Support from NHS Nottingham City primary care trust and Nottinghamshire County NHS Trust will come in the form of occupational therapist Lorraine Lancaster, who will spend four days a week on the project, travelling around Nottinghamshire visiting patients in the intervention group that will be receiving the bespoke therapy intervention.

Lorraine works as an occupational therapist with the Nottingham City Community Stroke team. This team provides rehabilitation and mid to long term support, mostly at home, for people who have had a stroke.

Lorraine said: “Our multi disciplinary team has specialist knowledge and experience of stroke and stroke related issues.  It is important to work with patients, families and carers to develop a rehabilitation programme in order to meet their individual needs. Patients in this research study build on the work we have achieved by specifically focusing on outdoor mobility. We welcome any research that provides robust evidence that a specific intervention is likely to benefit stroke survivors.”

As well as Nottingham, 11 other places in the UK are taking part.

Anyone who has suffered from a stroke who is interested in finding out more about the study can contact Jane Horne/Janet Darby on 0115 823 0274 or 0115 823 0225, /

Case study — Ossie Newell, MBE

One person who has experienced the devastating consequences of stroke is Nottingham man Ossie Newell.

Since suffering a stroke in August 1999, Ossie has worked tirelessly to campaign for stroke care, stroke service provision and research and to develop partnerships which will contribute strongly to strategic improvements for patients.

It was this passion for the subject which led him to sign up for the original pilot study, upon which this latest nationwide research is based.

Ossie said: “My experience on returning home from hospital was one of a sense of being alone and isolated. A time to think about what had happened and what the future may or may not hold. This led to a sense of being confined to the four walls of house and home.

“For me, and I am sure many others, it became extremely important to be able to ‘get out of the house.’ I therefore elected to enrol for the original pilot.”

Ossie Newell, MBE – short biography

A retired Director of AMEC Plc, a large multi-national project management and construction services group. Ossie is a professional manager and chartered engineer and was responsible for engineering on a worldwide basis and for the profitability of 17 companies internationally, mainly in the oil and gas industry. This was the position he held for the last 10 years of his business career.  Ossie has been a Locum Chairman, or Chief Executive of a variety of companies since his retirement.

In August 1999 he suffered a stroke and has worked tirelessly ever since as a volunteer in the health service, almost on a daily basis. Ossie represented patients from the East Midlands at a Summit Conference for Stroke Survivors held in Parliament prior to the launch of the National Stroke Strategy. He is also a retired Board Member of the Acute Care Hospital where he was a stroke patient.

Over the years he has received various awards and has written several books and papers on a variety of subjects including stroke. When the two acute care hospitals in Nottingham were merged some four plus years ago and a “four ward stroke unit” was created on the City Campus, the wards were renamed and in recognition of Ossie’s work for the stroke unit, one of the sub acute wards now bears his name, the Newell Ward.

Presently he is the President of the Nottingham Stroke Services Partnership Action Group, Brand named @astroke, which was founded in 2003. He is also joint chair, with Professor Marion Walker of The University of Nottingham, of the Nottingham Research Consumer Group, created in 2004.

He was recognised for his dedication and tireless campaigning work with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2009.

The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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Story credits

Notes to editors: More information is available from Jane Horne/Janet Darby on +44 (0)115 823 0274 or 0115 823 0225, or Emma Thorne, Media Relations Manager in the Communications Office at The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5793,


Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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