Excellence in Research Writing Award for the Stroke Recovery Program Research Done at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute

Research Conducted by the Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute Awarded Top Industry Honor

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JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute was the recipient of the Excellence in Research Writing Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists and the “American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.” Co-Principal Investigators of the research study were Sara Cuccurullo, M.D., Chair, Medical Director and VP of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, and Talya Fleming, M.D., Medical Director of the Aftercare and Stroke Recovery Programs.

Drs. Cuccurullo and Fleming showed in their study that stroke survivors can
substantially reduce their chances of dying within the year by completing a comprehensive program of cardiac conditioning and lifestyle counseling.

AAP represents faculty, researchers, and others supporting the advancement of physical medicine and rehabilitation academics. The award was presented at a joint meeting between the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) World Congress and the AAP.

Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said the study is revolutionizing the way the medical community thinks about stroke recovery. “We are so proud of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute for this award and their groundbreaking research, which may ultimately change the lives of thousands of stroke patients around the world,” he said.

The JFK Johnson Stroke-HEART™ Trials set out to determine if cardiac conditioning — similar to what’s offered to people recovering from cardiac disease — could improve death rates for survivors of serious strokes.

The study of nearly 800 patients showed that those who completed the JFK Johnson Stroke Recovery Program improved on every one of the measures followed: mortality, cardiac performance, and overall function.

In a sub-analysis, researchers compared patients of similar gender, age, race and medical complexity and found those who did not complete the program were nine times more likely to die than those who did complete the program.

The cardiac conditioning was modified for stroke patients and used a recumbent cross-training bicycle.

“As physical medicine physicians, we know how to get people with serious neurologic impairment moving,” Dr. Cuccurullo said. “There was this thinking that you can’t get stroke patients to exercise. But we found that with some modifications stroke patients can exercise safely. And we are finding the benefits to be substantial.”

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