All stroke patients should have access to rehabilitation, skilled nursing care: American Heart Assoc

Every person who has a stroke should have access to needed rehabilitation and skilled nursing services regardless of how they are financing their healthcare, according to a new policy recommendation from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

Stroke care in the United States should involve an integrated system from the onset of symptoms through post-stroke care, the AHA/ASA said in a 25-page policy statement released Friday. Such a system would reduce post-stroke disability, alleviating costs and improving quality of life. Better interdisciplinary coordination of care would also mean 20,000 fewer deaths in the United States each year, if it reduced stroke-related deaths by just 2% to 3%, the paper states.

Most people who have a stroke require some form of rehabilitation, the AHA/ASA document notes. Discussions about the type and location of post-acute care should involve physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, discharge planners and case managers.

“Prospective payment systems play a significant role in determining where Medicare patients with stroke … receive their post-acute care,” the statement says. Post-stroke care is linked to geographic variations in Medicare-funded post-acute care, caused by issues such as access to services and local regulations.

Future care should ensure adequate access to post-acute services for those who have had a stroke, regardless of a person’s “financial status or socioeconomic background,” the statement says. This is necessary for ensuring people recover as completely as possible, which will ultimately reduce the economic impacts of stroke.

Click here to access the complete policy statement, which was published in the journal Stroke.