Stroke is the number one cause of acquired long-term disability in the adult population in Canada as well as being the most common neurological disease requiring admission to hospital. The incidence of stroke in North America averages 150 cases per 100,000 population per year and will increase by 1%-2% per year for the next decade as the population ages. In Canada the aging population is such that older adults over the age of 65 will make up just over 20% of the population by 2025, a 7% increase in just less than 20 years (The Growing Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada, 2003). This makes it imperative that health professionals are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skill to meet projected demands for stroke treatment and highlights the need for continuing post professional evidence-based education.
Stroke rehabilitation helps to reduce the costs associated with stroke and improves the quality of life of stroke survivors. Health care providers in rehabilitation and other professions require education on best-practices and evidence-based guidelines in stroke rehabilitation in order to increase their effectiveness and efficiency in helping stroke survivors to regain function and re-integrate into their home and community lives. “Stroke patients will benefit from rehabilitation programs that will result in improved integration to normal living after stroke. The end result is a better quality of life.” says Dr. Andrew Demchuk, Director of the Calgary Stroke Program.
In order to meet the professional development needs of health practitioners involved in stroke rehabilitation efforts, the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta offers a graduate level Certificate in Stroke Rehabilitation. The aim of this interdisciplinary program is to provide advanced education in collaborative stroke rehabilitation. Gayle Thompson of the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy posits that “offering an education program in stroke rehabilitation is a significant way of supporting health professionals in providing optimal care to stroke survivors.”
This certificate is an inter-disciplinary stroke rehabilitation program designed to address the learning needs of rehabilitation clinicians across the continuum of care and meet the need for an approach that health care representatives and stroke experts have recommended. Additionally, the program offering helps to respond to the observation that knowledge about stroke research findings is not always translated effectively to healthcare professionals (Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care, 2008).
This program will be of interest to physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, recreational therapists, physicians, and others who are involved in stroke rehabilitation efforts.