Modified Cardiac Rehabilitation Reduces Stroke Deaths, Reduces Costs, and Improves Outcomes
(Edison, NJ – May 23, 2022) – Two Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute physicians outlined their groundbreaking research on stroke care to an international audience of clinical leaders.
Sara Cuccurullo, MD, and Talya Fleming, MD, were keynote speakers at the John Hopkins Medicine conference, “Recovery after Stroke: State of the Science and Future Innovations.” The physicians described how a modified cardiac rehabilitation program can significantly reduce deaths and improve outcomes for survivors of a serious stroke.
Dr. Cuccurullo is vice president and medical director of JFK Johnson and Dr. Fleming is medical director of the JFK Johnson Stroke Recovery and Aftercare Program. They addressed the physicians, nurses, therapists, and other health care specialists in the fields of neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and primary care.
Dr. Cuccurullo and Dr. Fleming outlined the on-going JFK Johnson Stroke-HEARTTM Trials that showed how a Stroke Recovery Program that includes medically supervised exercise, prescribed therapy, and physician follow up can reduce the chances that survivors of serious stroke will die within the year by 76 percent.
Participants in the Stroke Recovery Program also saw a 78 percent increase in their cardiovascular capacity, and steady improvement in scores related to mobility, self-care, and communication/cognition.
The Stroke Recovery Program also reduced hospital readmissions by 22 percent, potentially saving Medicare $1.2 billion if a stroke recovery program is widely offered to stroke survivors, the research found.
The goal of the conference was to bring together leading scientists, researchers, and interdisciplinary clinicians for a rigorous review of the state of the science and the innovative ways forward.
Dr. Cuccurullo and Dr. Fleming told the audience, which included attendees from six continents, that Medicare currently requires patients recovering from stroke to use Medicare funding within the Medicare therapy cap for outpatient therapies. In contrast, patients with cardiac disease can receive cardiac rehabilitation outside the therapy cap.
“The cap puts stroke patients at a disadvantage,” Dr. Cuccurullo said. “We believe patients with stroke deserve the same comprehensive rehabilitation program that patients with cardiac disease receive.”
The JFK Johnson Stroke Recovery Program (SRP) provides 36 sessions of medically monitored interval cardiovascular training — as well as follow-up visits with a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician along with psychological, nutritional, and educational support and risk factor (such as smoking, diet, and exercise) management. The cardiac rehabilitation is modified for patients with stroke.
“As a nation, we need to do more to help patients with stroke improve their lives — to improve both their longevity and quality of life,” said Dr. Fleming.
The research is being expanded to include rehabilitation centers across the country.
About Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute:
Named in the Top 30 Rehabilitation Hospitals in the Country by U.S. News and World Report, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is a 94-bed facility in Edison, New Jersey, that offers the state’s most comprehensive rehabilitation services to restore function and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities. For nearly 50 years, JFK Johnson has served children and adults in the tri-state area — and has developed programs in specialties such as brain injury, stroke rehabilitation, orthopedics/musculoskeletal and sports injuries, cardiac rehabilitation, pediatrics, and prosthetics and orthotics. JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is part of the Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, which also includes Johnson Rehabilitation Institute at Ocean University Medical Center and Johnson Rehabilitation Institute at Riverview Medical Center. Each rehabilitation hospital brings together highly specialized physicians and professionals with the goal of “Advancing What’s Possible” for every patient. The JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute also partners with the St. Joseph’s Health Acute Rehabilitation Unit at St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center in Wayne, New Jersey. JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute serves as the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of the Hackensack Meridian Medical School and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. To learn more, visit JFKJohnson.org.