Up to eight in ten stroke survivors of working age could return to work with proper planning, believes Diane Playford, president of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine and professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Warwick. 

Half of stroke survivors are left with some form of disability, but with one in three stroke patients of working age it is important that those who want to return to work can do so, Playford says. Over eight million people with a neurological condition are able to manage a daily routine.  “Working supports physical and mental recovery, boosts the economy and reduces people’s dependence on health and social care systems,” she says.

Careful planning should support stroke survivors back to work if they want this. Playford says: “The conversation really needs to start early, where stroke unit teams can explore and manage the expectations that the patient, their families and the employer have.”

The reality is that a return to work can take six months or longer, particularly if intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation is required. It should involve visits to the patient’s workplace to discuss concerns, and to support organisations to achieve adjustments that are reasonable under Equality Act legislation. The Business Disability Forum supports a disability-friendly economy because there are good commercial reasons to do so, says Playford. “Retaining valuable talent is good for any business.”