HAZARD — For the past nine years, the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network (KARRN) has worked to improve the health and healthcare of people with spinal cord injury, brain injury and stroke living in rural Kentucky through education, advocacy, research and resources development. Patients dealing with these conditions and their caregivers encounter many healthcare barriers, which can make it hard to get the care needed and to make good health choices. A project is now underway to find out what health information people with spinal cord injury, stroke complications and brain injury need to help them make proper healthcare decisions and guide them in the right direction to receive insightful information.
This project operates through the UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health, which has offices beside Hazard ARH. Officials with this program ask: Do you or a loved one have a spinal cord injury, a traumatic brain injury or complications from stroke? Does the person diagnosed with one of these conditions live in a rural community? If so, they invite you to contribute to the project by taking part in a 90-minute focus group to discuss these topics along with seven other people. Each participant will receive a $20 gift card for their time to be used however they chose.
One idea behind this project is to find out what important questions health professionals are not asking when researching these conditions. Sometimes the issues patients and their caregivers consider to be most important are not the same issues health professionals focus on during the rehabilitation process.
“Our whole idea is we want you as independent as possible,” said Dr. Patrick Kitzman of UK Rural Health, “We want you involved with your own healthcare. This project is really trying to figure what is relevant to folks so we can give them the tools they need to be successful. And hopefully we can make a positive change in health and healthcare. And we are going to empower people dealing with this to take charge of their lives.”
Among the questions that will be asked during the research sessions are: What health problems are a priority for you? Where do you go to get health information? How much does health research influence your healthcare decision making?
Keisha Hudson is a Research Assistant and Stroke Navigator for the UK Center for Rural Health, who is part of several programs designed to provide care and effective rehabilitation for stroke patients and their caregivers.
“One thing we focus on in our Stroke Program is caregivers,” said Hudson, “We have had some caregivers who sometimes let themselves go and get into a health crisis because it is tough. We want to provide helpful services for them. We invite caregivers to take part in our program so we can provide additional information, education and support for them. We have some caregivers who come to our sessions and leave the stroke patient at home because that is their time to come and get support, which is very important.”
The UK Center for Rural Health provides regular stroke patient and caregiver support sessions. Keisha Hudson can be contacted for more info at 606-439-3557 ext. 83452 or [email protected]
The research sessions striving to gain valuable information about spinal cord injury, brain injury and stroke rehabilitation will be held January 24th at Hazard UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health Room 429 from 3:00 p.m. to5:00 p.m.; February 22nd at Hazard UKCERH Room 429 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; March 8th at Lexington Cardinal Hill 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; April 11th at Berea TBD; April 19th at Morehead TBD.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.