Many stroke patients return to work

Even though a blood clot in the brain can have severe physical and cognitive consequences, more than half of all patients who suffer a stroke have returned to the labour market two years later.

Postdoc Nils Skajaa har undersøgt danskernes arbejdsmarkedstilknytning efter stroke i et stort studie, der netop er publiceret i det videnskabelige tidskrift BMJ. Foto: AU

A blood clot or bleeding in the brain – known as stroke – is one of the most common causes of death in Denmark, and is the most frequent cause of disability in Danish adults.

However, a new study from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital reveals good news in relation to the future of stroke patients.

The study shows that most Danes of working age (18-60) who are hit by the serious illness return to the labour market. In fact, 56 per cent had returned to the labour market after just six months, while 64 per cent were back at work two years after suffering a stroke.

“Even though stroke has a significant impact on the labour market participation, it is an encouraging and important finding that a large proportion of patients return to work despite the serious illness,” says postdoc Nils Skajaa PhD of the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at AUH, who is responsible for the study.

He stresses that the study deals with patients of working age, who often experience stroke in a milder form than the elderly.

May inspire a more structured rehabilitation process

The study is the largest of its kind and makes use of detailed data from national Danish registries. An important element in the study is its use of the so-called DREAM registry, which has made it possible to study labour market participation in a high degree of detail. Amongst other things, the study, which looks at 22,907 Danes who have had the disease, shows that different types of stroke give different chances of re-establishing a link with the labour market.

It can only be in a welfare state like Denmark with a strong health service that about two-thirds of adults of working age can be back at work two years after suffering a stroke, explains Nils Skajaa.

He hopes that the insights obtained can be used to guide the national health policy of the future.

“The new National Action Plan for Stroke, published by the stroke patient association Hjernesagen, calls for greater attention to be paid to both the physical and cognitive consequences of stroke – coupled with a more structured rehabilitation process. It is not unlikely that labour market participation after stroke can be further improved in the future,” he says.

Absence due to illness and receipt of a disability pension are the most frequent reasons why stroke patients do not return to work.


Facts: Stroke

  • Stroke refers to bleeding or a blood clot in the brain. 
  • The symptoms are usually a sudden abnormal paralysis of the body or face, disruption of the speech, or vision disturbances. Some people may experience dizziness and problems controlling their body. 
  • In the case of symptoms of stroke, call the ambulance service or a doctor immediately, as it is crucial that treatment begins quickly.


Behind the research results



Ph.d. and postdoc Nils Skajaa
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine