University College London (UCL)

During COVID-19, we knew people with stroke and other brain injuries were spending less time in hospital receiving neurorehabilitation. Rehabilitation is often the forgotten part of the care pathway – but it’s vital for achieving the best recovery.

SameYou wanted to find a way of helping community rehabilitation teams by offering additional online group based neurorehabilitation to people directly in their own homes. N-ROL is a telerehabilitation initiative with UCLH Queen Square which was made possible thanks to your generous fundraising.

Professor Nick Ward (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) said:

The coronavirus pandemic means people with stroke and brain injuries will be living back at home much earlier than normal: we will have a large population of vulnerable patients in the community, who need support.

Ordinarily rehabilitation teams would visit patients at home, however due to Covid-19 this cannot happen, so we want to use virtual technologies to ensure good levels of care can still be provided.

This funding will enable us to pilot a project, which uses existing technologies such as WhatsApp or Zoom, to get essential rehabilitation into people’s homes. We will set up virtual rehabilitation and support groups and to provide both emotional and physical support – helping them adjust to what’s happened.

N-ROL aims to reduce social isolation and improve self-efficacy for ongoing post-stroke recovery by providing high quality, group-based online neurological rehabilitation to patients denied conventional neurorehabilitation due to COVID-19. N-ROL offered a range of groups that encompass the main areas of unmet need that patients with acquired brain injury typically have including:

  • Me, my stroke and us: A stroke education group with discussion and support about the impacts of stroke
  • Strategies for cognitive deficits: A group to explore changes in cognition and sharing strategies to compensate for these changes
  • Emotional support: An opportunity to discuss the impact on mood and identity of stroke and provide a therapeutic intervention
  • Carer giving café: An opportunity for carers to share experiences of people living with a stroke survivor
  • Fatigue management group: This group aims to provide information on post stroke fatigue and equip stroke survivors with practical skills on how to manage potential symptoms 
  • Communication (Cognitive Communication): A conversation-based group suitable for people with mild aphasia or cognitive-communication difficulties, involving tasks such as debates, presentations and self-reflection 
  • Communication (Dysarthria): A group suitable for people with dysarthria to learn and practice strategies and techniques for improving comprehensibility
  • Communication (Moderate Aphasia): A group suitable for people with moderate aphasia to learn and practice techniques such as total communication
  • Physical 1: A combination of chair fitness and chair Pilates to work on building confidence with sit to stand
  • Physical 2: This supported standing group aims to improve standing tolerance and confidence (includes a chair Pilates group)
  • Physical 3: This group aims to help stroke survivors who can stand unsupported improve their global strength and fitness (includes a lying Pilates group)
  • Upper limb recovery 1: Support patients with minimal arm activity to incorporate their weak arm in function
  • Upper limb recovery 2: Supporting patients who have the beginnings of functional reach to improve their upper limb function
  • Upper limb recovery 3: Supporting patients who have the beginnings of grasp and release improve their upper limb function

Patients who have taken part in N-ROL commented:

It is a great thing to be able to reach out to the community directly into people’s homes in this way and I feel sure that many patients and their families will benefit from this innovative technical yet very personal approach and I thank you once again for making this possible.

It’s been life saving.

I thank you for helping me accept the 'new' me with all the highs and lows along my path to recovery.

To find out more about the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology click here. To find out more about the UCLP Centre for Neurorehabilitation in Queen Square click here.

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