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Early talk therapy beneficial for stroke patients

27th June 2011

UK researchers have found that stroke patients who talk with a therapist about their hopes and fears about the future are less depressed and live longer than other patients.

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Findings suggest that 48% of the people who participated in motivational interviews within the first month after a stroke were not depressed a year later, compared to 37.7% of the patients who were not involved in talk therapy.

And only 6.5% of those who underwent talk therapy were dead within 12 months compared to 12.8% who did not receive the therapy, according to the research team from the University of Central Lancashire.

Lead research Professor Caroline Watkins said: “The talk-based intervention is based on helping people to adjust to the consequences of their stroke so they are less likely to be depressed.”

Up to 50% of stroke patients are depressed in the months after the stroke and that can lead to apathy, which inhibits mental recovery, according to the study in the journal Stroke.

Professor Watkins, a professor of stroke and elder care at the university, said this was the first time that a talk-based therapy had been shown to be effective.

She said that early therapy can also help people set realistic expectations and avoid some of the misery people go through in the months after a stroke.

The research involved 411 stroke patients with half assigned to see a therapist for up to four sessions lasting between 30 minutes and an hour while the other half did not receive talk therapy. All were given standard stroke care.

 

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