patient shown engaging in telehealth appointment

The use of telehealth in chronic care patients living with stroke is prone to multiple barriers, but it provides significant benefits across a range of functional complications and social determinants of health, researchers have found. 

In a review, investigators at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston sought to determine whether technology could help address care disparities among patients who have had a stroke, and in which ways it might widen care barriers.

They highlighted the benefits of using telerehab for a range of stroke impairments, including problems with gait, vision and cognition, as well as in addressing issues of economic instability and location.

The researchers noted, for example, that for patients dealing with stroke-related disabilities, telehealth addresses barriers related to mobility challenges and special equipment needed to access clinic spaces by removing the need for transportation altogether. It also decreases the number of in-person visits required of patients, allowing for better multidisciplinary care and the ability to remotely monitor blood pressure and
cardiac arrhythmias.

The team also identified barriers to telehealth, including physical and cognitive disability from stroke, and limited internet access, digital literacy and
English proficiency.

They outlined potential solutions, including social workers who can connect patients to federal programs offering discounts for internet access and technology purchases; provision of mobile hotspot devices to patients with limited Wi-Fi access; use of cellular devices for telemonitoring rather than services requiring Bluetooth; and use of texting, secure messaging smartphone apps, and other tools that do not require high-speed internet. The full review was published in the journal Stroke.