Posted on May 03, 2016

Stroke patients needing long-term rehabilitative care will directly benefit from Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) ground-breaking Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI) which is due to open in the near future in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City in Doha. The QRI will provide world class integrated rehabilitation services, including specialist care for patients recovering from stroke. It is part of a major expansion program which will see seven new hospitals, including the QRI, open in Qatar over the next 18 months.

The new hospitals will create more than 1100 new hospital beds between now and the end of December 2017, providing Qatar’s population with faster access to high quality healthcare. “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,” explained Dr. Wafaa Al Yazeedi, Acting Chairperson of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at Rumailah Hospital. 

“From the modern, well-equipped inpatient units designed exclusively for the care and comfort of stroke injury rehabilitation patients, to the extensive team of physicians, nurses, therapists, and others who specialize in stroke injury rehabilitation, QRI will uniquely combine the most advanced treatments and therapies that will help each individual patient’s recovery as fully as possible,” Dr. Al Yazeedi added. Due to the prevalence of risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, the incidence of stroke is high in Qatar. Currently, more than 1,000 acute stroke patients are admitted to HMC each year, with many of these patients requiring long-term rehabilitative care to help them recover.

“By providing 193 beds dedicated solely to rehabilitation, the QRI will significantly expand our capacity to care for recovering patients. This expansion, combined with the most modern rehabilitation facilities in the region, including seven hydrotherapy pools and 10 exercise rooms, will provide patients with faster access to rehabilitative care,” noted Dr. Al Yazeedi. “Acute strokes often damage critical parts of the brain that control muscle strength, movement and coordination. When the blood supply to the brain is suddenly cut off due to an acute stroke, damage to these areas of the brain can lead to a loss of function and coordination in various parts of the body,” explained Prof Ashfaq Shuaib, Director of HMC’s Neurosciences Institute.

The primary aim of stroke rehabilitation is to enable the patient to relearn the motor skills they have lost due to the stroke. The QRI’s expert team of clinicians and researchers will work together to set individual patient goals, overcome challenges, and find innovative solutions that noticeably improve patient recovery. “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,” added Dr. Al Yazeedi.

Personalized care and access to specialized multi-disciplinary teams in a single location will have a tremendous impact on the delivery of care for stroke patients.  Dr. Gisli Einarsson, CEO of the new QRI said: “Care will be tailored to each individual patient using personalized therapy programs and the most modern rehabilitative services. Patients will play an active role in their care plan and will know exactly what treatments they will receive from day one of their arrival at QRI. This will have a significant impact on improving the lives of our patients.”

The QRI will build on the significant advances of recent years in stroke care at HMC. The redesign of a specialized stroke service, including a dedicated Stroke Ward at HGH and the formation of a multi-disciplinary care team, has led to a range of improvements in stroke care, as Prof Shuaib explained: “The average length of stay has been reduced as a result of faster recovery in the Stroke Ward. Greater numbers of patients now receive thrombolysis - a clot-busting medication - and more patients undergo an advanced mechanical process to extract blood clots. These improved processes have led to higher rates of recovery with fewer complications.”

“Twenty years ago, wherever you were in the world, acute stroke patients’ chances of making a full recovery were average at best. But with the recent medical and scientific improvements we have made in recent years, along with the advances to come in the near future, stroke patients in Qatar will have the very best opportunity to return to normal life.” 

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