Relationships and social networks are known to impact outcome following a stroke. Studies have shown that group-housed animals who have had a stroke show greater neurological recovery than those who are isolated. Similarly, adults who are socially isolated following a stroke are more likely to suffer a recurrent stroke. It is also known that people who present with aphasia following a stroke are likely to experience isolation, resulting in high rates of depression in this group. Studies of social networks in people with aphasia following stroke have centred around those over 65 years of age. The large number of younger adults who have aphasia as a consequence of stroke have not been studied, yet are more likely to live longer. This paper describes a case series of four individuals under the age of 50 years with aphasia after a stroke. A qualitative approach, employing multiple semi-structured interviews with the person and their caregivers, was used. Results demonstrated that the three with moderate-severe aphasia were unable to return to work, relied on immediate family members for support; the youngest two (and most severe) were often completely alone for large portions of their days. The least impaired participant, with mild aphasia, was able to maintain her employment and most of her social relationships despite reporting a reduction in frequency due to her own avoidance. This study demonstrates that younger people with aphasia are often more isolated than older people with aphasia. This highlights an enormous risk and suggests that clinicians need to focus on supporting social networking opportunities as a matter of priority for this group.

Social Network Structure in Young Stroke Survivors with Aphasia: A Case Series Report.
Ellis C, Phillips R, Hill T, Briley PM.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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