Seventy percent of stroke survivors living with spasticity and their caregivers ranked the condition as one of the top three symptoms impacting their life post-stroke, according to a recent survey.

“It is critical for physicians to address spasticity with their post-stroke patients at the onset of, and throughout, their follow-up care,” Elliot J. Roth, MD, medical director of the patient recovery unit and attending physician, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, said in a press release. “Spasticity is a disabling condition, but often, patients are either uncomfortable or too overwhelmed to discuss it with their physician.”

Two online surveys were conducted by Allergan Inc. and the National Stroke Association: the first survey included 100 stroke survivors with spasticity and their caregivers; the second survey questioned 780 health care professionals, including 300 neurologists, 220 primary care physicians, 160 physical therapy specialists and 100 physiatrists.

Although more than 95% of the physicians surveyed believed spasticity has a moderate to severe impact on their patients’ lives, physical therapists and physiatrists were found to be more focused on helping manage the after effects of a stroke, with 22% percent of physical therapists and physiatrists and 38% of physiotherapists reporting that their focus in the first 6 months of a stroke patient’s follow-up care is on understanding and discussing physical complications like spasticity. Thirty-one percent of neurologists and 27% percent of primary care physicians said they focus on preventing a secondary stroke, and 22% of neurologists and 26% of primary caregivers focus on managing acute needs when treating stroke survivors.

The surveys also found nearly 50% of stroke survivors and their caregivers are unaware of available treatment options.

“The focus after someone has experienced a stroke is so commonly on preventing a second stroke, that rehabilitation goals are covered in broad terms. This can leave patients and their caregivers feeling unprepared for a larger discussion about the post-stroke symptoms they may be experiencing, including spasticity,” Roth said. “It’s critical that patients and caregivers understand that even if a person has been experiencing spasticity for years, in many cases there are ways to help manage the condition.”

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