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Testing a home-telehealth programme for US veterans recovering from stroke and their family caregivers.

Lutz BJ, Chumbler NR, Lyles T, Hoffman N, Kobb R. Testing a home-telehealth programme for US veterans recovering from stroke and their family caregivers. Disability and rehabilitation. 2009 Jan 1; 31(5):402-9.

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PURPOSE: The study purpose was to implement a stroke-specific, care coordination home telehealth (CCHT) programme for US veterans with stroke and their family caregivers. METHODS: In a non-randomized open trial using a mixed methods design, we tested the utility of a stroke-specific, home telehealth programme with 18 veterans and 14 caregivers for 14 days. Programme questions assessed physical impairment, depressive symptoms, and fall prevalence among veterans, and burden level among family caregivers. Nine veterans and six caregivers completed post-programme interviews exploring their experiences with telehealth. RESULTS: During the 14-day trial, 55% of the veterans screened positive for depression at least once, 36% of the caregivers had clinically significant burden, half of the veterans and caregivers reported post-stroke concerns, and 90% believed post-stroke contact from a care coordinator would have been helpful. In the interviews, seven veterans indicated they had fallen or almost fallen post-stroke. Themes centred on tailoring CCHT to individual needs, coordinating with support services, identifying safety issues, and providing information about stroke prevention. CONCLUSIONS: Home telehealth offers innovative ways to target post-stroke rehabilitation programmes to the needs and concerns of patients and their caregivers, and should include regular real-time contact between stroke patients and their healthcare providers.

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