Good Shepherd Participates in Stroke Survivor Research2/23/2011
Allentown, PA – Rehabilitation can help stroke survivors regain the function necessary to eat, walk and talk. For some stroke  survivors, functional impairments – while manageable – may be permanent. To help determine how much functional change is significant for stroke  survivors undertaking physical therapy , Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network recently participated in research conducted by Clarkson University of Potsdam, New York.
Good Shepherd’s clinicians worked with George D. Fulk, Ph.D., of Clarkson, to have 34 Good Shepherd stroke  patients participate in the study over a period of one year. The results of the research study recently were published in the November/December 2010 edition of Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation , a peer-reviewed professional journal.
“For a medical professional, such as a physical therapist , it’s easy to determine how much function a patient regains throughout the course of therapy,” says Sue Golden, PT, director of Neurorehabilitation Therapies. “Improvements in range of motion, strength or endurance can be easily measured. But how much functional improvement is needed before it becomes meaningful to a patient? How much strength or endurance must a patient regain for it to have a real impact on his or her life? These are questions of perception that have been missing from the patient outcomes  measured at Good Shepherd and other rehabilitation facilities.”
Good Shepherd clinicians and research coordinator worked with Dr. Fulk to pinpoint the minimal amount of change that patients must see before they feel their lives have been significantly improved by therapy.
Each patient who participated in the study completed the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS-16), a questionnaire designed to assess the functional outcomes needed to impact quality of life. The research showed that a 10- to 14-point improvement on the SIS-16 represented meaningful change for most people. In other words, this is the point when patients believe their lives were improved substantially by therapy.
"A measurement of the perceived improvement of patients is also a metric that is becoming more important as the health-care landscape changes,” says Golden. “In the near future, quality and patient outcomes  will determine reimbursement rates, so it is vital that health-care facilities are able to prove that patients are benefitting from the services they provide.”
Good Shepherd provides inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for stroke patients and specializes in using rehabilitation technology  to improve function. Good Shepherd has worked with Clarkson University in the past on research projects related to physical medicine and rehabilitation, including a study of a wheelchair  mounted robotic arm for people with multiple sclerosis .