A new rehabilitation center due to open in Qatar in the coming 18 months will have dedicated facilities to help stroke patients recover, Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) announced yesterday.
The Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, in Hamad bin Khalifa Medical City, will be one of seven new hospitals to launch by the end of next year.
The 193-bed facility will also have seven hydrotherapy rooms and 10 exercise rooms to help patients relearn lost motor skills that often occur after a stroke.
The new rehabilitation center will provide long-term care for patients, and will be the first of its kind in the region, HMC said in a statement.
“The QRI will provide care that is fundamentally different from any other hospital or rehabilitation setting in the region. Once fully operational, the institute will set the standard for stroke treatment,” Dr. Wafaa Al Yazeedi, Acting Chairperson of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at Rumailah Hospital, said.
HMC said the institute will open “in the near future”, but has not yet given a date for its launch.
Treatment for stroke patients in Qatar is a pressing concern. The average age for a resident suffering a stroke in the country is 54 years – more than 20 years younger than in the UK or the US.
This is at least in part due to the high prevalence of common risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and a lack of exercise across Qatar’s population.
The new center should help relieve some of the burden on existing facilities, such as Hamad General Hospital. At any one time, around one in five of the beds in the hospital’s medical ward are occupied by stroke patients, Dr. Ashfaq Shuaib, head of HMC’s Neurosciences Center previously told Doha News.
Currently, around 1,000 acute stroke patients are admitted to Qatar’s state-run hospitals each year. That’s the equivalent of nearly three patients every day.
Many of these require long-term rehabilitative care.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. As a result, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. This means that abilities which were controlled by that part of the brain, such as speech or muscle control, will be lost.
More than two-thirds of stroke survivors will have some type of disability as a result, the US-based National Stroke Association states.
Stroke patients at the new rehabilitation center will receive personalized therapy programs with a team of experts, including doctors, nurses, therapists, and others who specialize in stroke injury rehabilitation, to help patients recover as fully as possible, HMC said.
The main aim is to help the patients to re-learn the motor skills they have lost due to the stroke.
“At the QRI, we will offer ground-breaking therapies to help our stroke patients recover their lost skills. These will be provided by our teams who are trained extensively in assisted therapy to enhance the relearning of speech, hearing and reading,” Dr. Al Yazeedi added.
According to medical professionals, a stroke victim treated within 4.5 hours of symptoms appearing is generally seen as having the best chances of making a full recovery.
However, in Qatar only 51 percent of stroke victims arrive at hospital by ambulance soon after developing symptoms.
As a result, HMC launched a stroke awareness campaign last year, to educate the public in some of the symptoms of a stroke and to encourage victims to seek urgent medical attention.
The FAST campaign highlighted the tell-tale signs – drooping facial muscles, arm weakness and difficulty speaking – as well as the importance of acting quickly.
Note: This article was edited to correctly reflect that stroke patients take up one in five of the beds at Hamad Hospital’s medical ward.