Stroke survivors unaware of therapy options for spastic muscles, survey finds

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Many stroke survivors don't know about the therapy options that can address spastic muscles, which is a common and often disabling condition, according to a recent survey.

Out of 100 stroke patients and 200 caregivers surveyed, 70% listed spasticity as one of the top three symptoms affecting recovery. Nearly half of these respondents said they did not know about available treatments.

One reason: About 30% of neurologists and primary care physicians are primarily concerned with preventing a second stroke, a separate survey of 780 healthcare professionals found.

“The focus after someone has experienced a stroke is so commonly on preventing a second stroke that rehabilitation goals are covered in broad terms,” stated Elliot J. Roth, M.D., of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Spasticity often impedes stroke patients' ability to perform activities of daily living, making them more reliant on caregivers, noted Jim Baranski, chief executive officer of the National Stroke Association.

If a stroke patient is seeing a physical therapist, odds are much better that spasticity will be addressed. Nearly 40% of physiotherapists said conditions such as spasticity are their primary focus in the first six months after stroke, the survey found.

The surveys were conducted for the National Stroke Association and the pharmaceutical company Allergan.