Built environments may factor into post-stroke recovery

A physical therapist helps a man regain balance and motor control as part of physical therapy.

After connecting with 776 adults who recovered from a stroke, researchers found that a person’s social and physical environment may influence how well they recover. For example, people living in neighborhoods with higher median household incomes and with greater resources, such as higher levels of wealth, education, and employment, were more likely to report physical health improvements. They were also less likely to experience depression 90 days after having a moderate to severe stroke. Patients who had a minor stroke were also more likely to experience gains in mobility if they lived in areas with greater resources.

The authors note the correlational findings, which were based on surveys with white and Mexican American adults, about half of whom were ages 64 or older, may be of interest to physicians, policymakers, and researchers. For example, a clinician may recognize that a patient who experienced a severe stroke and lives in a neighborhood with minimal resources could benefit from closely-coordinated care. Researchers may further study built environments to understand features that support or impede stroke recovery, such as access to medical facilities, noise levels, and how easy it is to move around and socialize with others. Future policies could support targeted health interventions, based on this type of research.

The study, which is part of the Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi Project, published in Neurology and was supported by the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.