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“For stroke survivors  the real battle begins after they have been discharged from the hospital. The bio-psycho-social burden  on any society (family unit), if they are not properly prepared or organized, can very quickly become devastating” said Hrvoje Jurlina, M.D., stroke survivor from Croatian Stroke Society.

SAFE: What is one issue related to the life after stroke in your country that you think needs special attention?

HJ: As in every country the healthcare system has its flaws. The root to a great percentage of these  imperfections  within the healthcare system lies in the lack of logistical coordination within the system itself.  For example: ”If a bus driver does not know his own bus root how can anyone on board the bus be expected to arrive successfully to their desired destination?” (The Bus symbolizes Stroke, the bus driver represents the healthcare system, the bus route substitute as ‘Life after Stroke’, the bus stops depict the specific levels of care, therapy, and rehabilitation the stroke survivor must go through, and the desired destination of the stroke survivor within that bus route represents  the desired level of recovery from the burden of stroke.) This is very much so the situation in many healthcare systems in regards to stroke patients. Once the stroke survivor is released from the hospital , the stroke survivor and their primary caregiver (”get on that bus”) are given very little if any information regarding post hospital recovery procedures and care options. The information given is most often very superficial and lacks a realistic picture of what awaits the stroke survivor and their primary caregiver in the immediate and distant future.

SAFE: What would be the solution, i.e. what is your organisation’s position regarding this issue?

HJ: The need for some form of standardized criteria regarding recovery,  care options as well as an insight into patient rights for stroke survivors and their primary caregivers  is thoroughly needed. ‘ The bus route must be laid out, all of the bus stops must be clearly marked so that the stroke survivor as well as their primary caregiver may successfully navigate and reach their desired destination, which is the recovery from the burden of stroke. To achieve these goals a firm foundation must be put in place in which an alliance of all parties involved in the stroke survivors rehabilitation and recovery can come together in order to maximize a successful post stroke outcome. Without complete collaboration and cooperation (within all branches of health care, social services, patient advocate groups, and the stroke survivors primary caregiver) no true recovery from the burden of stroke can fully be achieved. This continuous burden not only inhibits all aspects of the stroke survivors life but directly influences the lives of their family  members and society as a whole.

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SAFE: Please tell us more about your organisation.

HJ: Croatian Stroke Society (Hrvatsko društvo za prevenciju moždanog udara) was founded in 1997 with the aim to prevent stroke among persons at risk and stroke survivors, and to improve diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation, based on the latest scientific knowledge. Raising the stroke awareness in Croatia, which will lead to the reduction of stroke by creating a healthier and more conscious society, is our vision. The Croatian Stroke Society is divided into two branches which are collaborating – stroke survivors section and professional/scientific section.  Our activities are focused at educating the population, stroke survivors, caregivers and the medical staff about stroke to improve diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. The stroke survivors section members are primarily involved on raising the stoke awareness among the population including stroke survivors and their family and caregivers organizing public campaigns, patient groups, lectures with stroke risk assessments, activities on social media channels, etc. The professional/scientific section members are primarily involved on raising the stroke awareness and education of health professionals as well as providing the medical scientific background to the public and stroke survivors.  Croatian Stroke Society is proud member of the Stroke Alliance for Europe, European Stroke Organization and Central and Eastern European Stroke Society.