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Acute Stroke Unit To Complement Rehab Service

Acute Stroke Unit To Complement Rehab Service

A new acute stroke unit opened at Christchurch hospital this afternoon, complementing the existing stroke rehabilitation unit at Princess Margaret hospital.

The Clinical Director of the rehabilitation unit Dr Carl Hanger, said the unit was an important part of stroke management in Canterbury which was leading the way in New Zealand.

‘Every year in Canterbury between 7-800 new cases of stroke occur. They cross the spectrum from minor to serious but stroke is common and it is costly,’ he said.

Stroke could occur through high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, heart disease and high levels of cholestrol, Dr Hanger said. Many cases of stroke occurred through lifestyle but family history also played a part.

‘Our emphasis is on rehabilitation both in hospital and in the community, but prevention is very important,’ he said. With the acute and rehabilitation units functioning, emphasis would now need to focus on prevention, he added.

‘Most of the people we see are over 65,’ Dr Hanger said. ‘There is also an increasing number of women experiencing stroke. We have adopted a team approach to the management of stroke, from the acute episode through the rehabilitation phase in hospital and in the community. It takes specialist clinicians, nurses and therapists working as a team to get the success we have achieved to date.’

The units at Princess Margaret and Christchurch hospitals had come about through the efforts of Eldercare Canterbury and the New Zealand Stroke Foundation. Eldercare Canterbury had worked particularly hard to see the rehabilitation unit established.

‘The challenge of reintegration back into the community is huge, but we need to keep striving to complete the stroke person’s journey’, he said.

The two stroke units were a real success story, said the Chief Executive of the CDHB, Jean O’Callaghan who officially opened the acute unit. It was due in no small measure to the efforts of the teams at both hospitals and to Eldercare Canterbury.

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