2014: Andrew Marr speaks out for more physiotherapy after stroke

Andrew Marr speaks out for more physiotherapy after stroke

Andrew Marr’s eloquence and humour allowed ordinary people a real insight into life after stroke during his time with JohnathanRoss. This interview offered a rare combination of entertainment, inspiration and highlighting essential issues.

 In particular Andrew drew attention to the lack of physiotherapy available for ordinary people who are living with the consequences of stroke. In Ireland and the UK most people are offered six to eight sessions of physiotherapy and then left with nothing. For those who live with communication and cognitive issues the story is the same; they receive a hand full of sessions with a speech and language therapist or an occupational therapist and then there is a great expanse of help-free life for them to negotiate.

When my husband Steve had his Stroke at the age of 50 I had two options: I could continue to work as a lecturer and communications consultant or I could give up work and search for ways to improve Steve’s life. I choose the latter. During the first year of his illness I spent a great deal of time fighting my way through red tape. It took dozens of phone calls and endless visits to health centres, social workers, health nurses and hospitals to win six extra sessions of physiotherapy and ten extra sessions of speech and language therapy. But a week or two after the sessions stopped so did Steve’s progress. The research on stroke rehabilitation is clear; progress follows therapy, the more therapy you get the better your chances of recovery:


“There is unanimous agreement in the literature concerning the importance of the amount of therapy for recovery: greater amounts of therapy have better chances to affect recovery positively than a smaller amount of therapy”. (Basso, A. (2005). “How intensive/prolonged should an intensive/prolonged treatment be?” Aphasiology 19(10/11): 975-984.)


I agree completely with Andrew Marr when he says that it costs government more when they fail to invest in recovery after a life changing illness like stroke. If they invested in rehabilitation they would save so much. Not only would people be more able to work and less dependent on others but it would reduce the pressure on family caregivers. In Ireland and the UK more than 80% of disabled people are looked after by a family member. Typically one-in-five family carers suffer from depression and a quarter suffer from back injury. If they are no longer able to care for their loved one at home, the cost of a nursing home is almost four times the cost of supporting them at home.

If government provided a full rehabilitation package for people who have survived life changing events the results would benefit the individual and the tax payer. Each person could make a better recovery and live a more productive and fulfilling life. In addition they could take pressure off the family caregiver thereby lowering the number of people who are forced into nursing homes and reduce the cost of ill health suffered by caregivers.

It just makes sense to provide sufficient rehabilitation after a life changing event or illness

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