It is estimated that there are 15 million new strokes each year worldwide. In the UK stroke is the leading cause of disability among adults. For stroke survivors access to timely and skilled rehabilitation can improve recovery. However, with an NHS system under financial pressure and increasing demand being placed on rehabilitation services many Scottish stroke survivors fail to achieve optimal recovery. Rehabilitation technologies ranging from mobile apps to advanced robotics, can support efficient and effective delivery of rehabilitation. The integration of these technologies into mainstream practice, however, has been slow and variable. Reasons for this include lack of familiarity, availability, cost, setup time and lack of evidence. Resolving this disconnect between technology development and implementation into practice will require innovation from developers, users and policy makers. Current models of practice need to be challenged if technologies are to be fully exploited for patient benefit.
Our aim is reduce the healthy years lost to stroke through greater integration of technologies that promote patient centred functional recovery. To do this we propose a programme of activities designed to generate new thinking in this area by clarifying user priorities, developing a framework to evaluate and guide technology development in a way that places the user at the centre and to form a network of stakeholders capable of influencing practice nationally and internationally.
Our proposed programme has three objectives:
1. Identify user (patients, carers and healthcare professionals) priorities for rehabilitation technology.
2. Develop a user-perspective evaluation framework for current/future technologies.
3. Establish a network of users, developers and policy-makers to progress the rehabilitation agenda and influence practice.
To meet these objectives we will hold three, one day seminars inviting local, national and international stakeholders, including a range of policy and practice organisations such as Chest and Heart Stroke Scotland, the Stroke Association, Scottish Government and the NHS. Each event will be preceded by a questionnaire circulated to the wider community for broader engagement and to prime seminar discussions.