Canadians urgently need better stroke care services - Canadian Physiotherapy Association's Stroke Month message

    TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - Many Canadians are still not getting consistent
and timely access to stroke care despite evidence that shows organized stroke
programs could prevent tens of thousands of strokes and save the health care
system billions of dollars.
    Strokes are the third leading cause of death in Canada and the leading
cause of adult disability. They cost the economy over $3 billion annually.
Every year more than 50,000 Canadians experience a stroke and over 300,000
live with the residual effects. The incidence of stroke is expected to
increase as the population ages and the rates of obesity and diabetes rise,
yet many provinces still do not have organized stroke programs. Organized
stroke programs provide individuals who experience a stroke access to
comprehensive care by an interprofessional team, including a physiotherapist,
both in hospital and in the community.
    "Physiotherapists play a critical role in the rehabilitation of stroke
survivors as they work to regain their mobility, function and independence in
every day activities," says Michael Brennan, CEO of the Canadian Physiotherapy
Association. "Evidence indicates that stroke patients have improved function
and quality of life after a course of intensive physiotherapy. Stroke
survivors should not only have physiotherapy in the hospital, but continue to
have access to it after being discharged".
    Two years ago, the Canadian Stroke Strategy released the Canadian Best
Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care, which addresses the gaps in the
stroke care continuum including the creation of more organized stroke
programs. While some of these recommendations have been implemented there is
still much more that can be done. Presently, the best practice recommendations
are being updated with the latest evidence and will be available later this
    "More of these organized stroke programs would save lives, save money and
improve quality of life," says Alison McDonald, Co-Chair of the Canadian
Stroke Strategy Best Practices and Standards Working Group and a Nova Scotia
physiotherapist who works with stroke patients. "Having all stroke patients in
one unit in a hospital means they will get better care and that will make a
difference in mortality rates. That has been proven. Canadian projections
based on an economic model for stroke care suggest that organized stroke
management could prevent 160,000 strokes and save the health care system
$8 billion over twenty years," says McDonald.
    Despite the proven benefits of physiotherapy in stroke treatment many
Canadians still face barriers accessing this and other essential services that
are necessary for recovery. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association is calling
on provincial governments and health care providers to revisit the Canadian
Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care and find the political will and
collaboration necessary to bring about change and improve services.
    For more information on the recommendations and the professional
education toolkit please go to this website:

    About CPA

    The Canadian Physiotherapy Association is the national voluntary
professional association, representing more than 10,000 members across the
country. CPA's mission is to provide leadership and direction to the
physiotherapy profession, foster excellence in practice, education and
research, and promote high standards of health in Canada. Additional
information can be found at

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Virginia Bawlf, National Media
Relations Liaison, (416) 932-1888 (x222), (647) 379-4145 (cell),

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