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The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) has played a key role in contributing towards new official guidelines for the care of stroke patients in the UK.
COT fellows Professor Avril Drummond and Karen Clements have been instrumental in devising the new Royal College of Physicians' Stroke Programme guidance, which places an emphasis on the importance of treating stroke sufferers in their own homes where possible in order to make their recovery more comfortable.
They both believe that adopting a multidisciplinary approach to stroke patients' initial care and longer-term rehabilitation may increase their chances of full recovery, with the concept supporting the main aims of the COT's Improving Lives, Saving Money campaign.
In addition, the new guidance for fellow occupational therapists and other medical professionals calls for all patients suspected to have suffered a stroke to receive a full brain scan within one hour of their arrival at hospital instead of within the 12 hour window that is currently in place. This means that all healthcare centres with acute stroke facilities would need to have access to brain scan equipment 24 hours a day.
As a result, local stroke care services would need to be significantly more organised in order to make sure more patients could be seen within a smaller timeframe, with this situation potentially creating more opportunities for occupational therapists.
Professor Drummond, who is also chair of the UK Stroke Forum, commented: "Rehabilitation is again a key area in the new guidelines which extends across the whole patient and carer pathway.
"We are particularly pleased that, in this edition, there is more recognition of the length of the journey and thus there are recommendations for enhancing life after stroke. The role of the occupational therapist remains central in the multidisciplinary team."
The new guidance also includes advice on recently-introduced stroke treatments such as close removal, alongside featuring research and recommendations in relation to mini-strokes.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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