Stroke by numbers
Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide and a common cause of disability in adults in developed countries.
The incidence of stroke in New Zealand is high compared to other developed countries with over 9000 new stroke events each year and over 2500 deaths attributable to this condition.
Each day, approximately 24 New Zealanders will have a stroke. At any point in time, there will be over 60,000 New Zealanders who have survived their initial event but are living with the disabilities arising from stroke.
We encourage our patients to take an active role in the development of rehabilitation strategies for themselves and future patients.
Stroke isn't about numbers, it's about people
Eric was a 33 year old fireman with Urban Search and Rescue when an undiagnosed and asymptomatic blood condition resulted in a series of strokes. Following lengthy acute and post acute hospitalisations, Eric was discharged home, but continued to have significant swallowing, speech and physical motor impairments.
Not all strokes occur in the elderly. Approximately 25% of all first strokes in New Zealand occur in individuals under 65 years of age. Only 50% of these are able to return to full time work by 6 months.
Health systems have developed comprehensive clinical rehabilitation services for individuals in the acute and post acute phases; services are particularly well developed for elderly stroke patients. There are also well developed services for young patients who have suffered disability due to accidental injury. However, funding for and access to rehabilitation services are more restricted for stroke patients under the age of 65 years.
The consequences of stroke are devastating for all ages, but for patients like Eric, disability is a very long term impediment to supporting a family, engaging in a career, and interacting effectively with friends and family. This emphasizes the need for rehabilitation research.