New programme launched to prevent dementia in stroke patients

File photo of a dementia patient at St Andrew's Community Hospital.
File photo of a dementia patient at St Andrew's Community Hospital.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - A new programme has been launched to help stroke patients slow or prevent the onset of dementia.

Developed by the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), the cognitive rehabilitation programme is believed to be the first of its kind here. It aims to improve one's cognition, such as memory,executive function and functional status.

Patients will go through six weekly sessions within the first year of suffering a stroke. The sessions cover aspects such as memory and executive function, which is the ability to plan and carry out tasks.

Studies done by NNI have shown that within six months of suffering a stroke, 36.7 per cent of patients develop cognitive impairment, including dementia.

The new programme, called Stroke Memory Rehabilitation Programme, is now being run at the NNI by various healthcare professionals including nurses and psychologists. It caters mainly to stroke sufferers who have minimal physical impairments but with significant cognitive issues.

Associate Professor Nagaendran Kandiah, a senior consultant at NNI, said on Friday (March 17): "Current rehabilitation programmes focus on physical and functional rehabilitation but not cognition. While cognitive decline may continue after stroke, a significant number of patients will show stabilisation and improvement when provided with suitable intervention programmes."

There are plans to introduce the programme in the community over the next three years. When fully implemented, it is expected to benefit around 2,500 stroke patients each year.