Organized Stroke Rehabilitation in Canada: Redefining Our Objectives

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Abstract

Introduction:

Evidence suggests that patients who receive care in organized stroke units experience better outcomes compared to patients who receive care in general rehabilitation units. As such, the Canadian Stroke Strategy has consistently included provision of “organized” stroke rehabilitation in their best practice recommendations for stroke care. However, recent research in Ontario suggests that development of organized stroke rehabilitation units has not led to the better patient outcomes that had been expected.

Methods:

In this article, we review the evidence in favour of organized stroke rehabilitation units, assess the state of organized rehabilitation in Canada (as exemplified by care in Ontario), and discuss potential solutions for better application of best evidence and guideline recommendations for organized stroke care in Canada.

Results:

The most up-to-date evidence in Canada suggests that best practice recommendations around organized stroke care are currently not adhered to well. However, further exploration suggests that some of the recommendations themselves may not be attainable as currently defined.

Conclusions:

It appears that organized stroke care is not available to many Canadians, and better application of recommendations is necessary. Still, re-evaluation of current recommendations may also be necessary to ensure that they fit with the reality of providing care in Canada.

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