Shedding a Light on Stroke Awareness

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time to discuss and recognize a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Not only is this month critical for educating the public about the signs and symptoms of stroke, but it’s also important to bring more awareness to the underserved community of stroke survivors that are left without long-term support after their stroke. By promoting awareness, we can make strides towards a world where strokes are less common, better understood, and survivors are more supported. 

Many chronic stroke survivors feel left in the dark after being released from the hospital and inpatient therapy. They are not given the proper education on their stroke recovery, leaving 1/3 of stroke patients without any rehabilitation therapy in their first year of recovery1. The lack of support or guidance after having a stroke can be isolating and discouraging for stroke survivors.  

We asked our team of Vivistim Ambassadors the following questions to highlight their experiences and the importance of stroke awareness: 

What are the unmet needs you have experienced as a stroke survivor?

  • “It’s been over 5 years since my stroke, and we did not hear of any stroke survivor groups until very recently.” 
  • “I did not receive immediate post-stroke information on the importance of proper stroke therapy.” 
  • “Service dog funding assistance programs for stroke survivors are pretty much non-existent. There are programs out there for lots of other things but not this.”
  • “I would have liked more effective vision and driving rehab.” 
  • “I find that I’m often not considered “disabled enough” to access the help and support I need from community programs, especially before I could return to work, or driving and relating to insurance.” 
  • “I feel I was let go from PT/OT sooner than needed, after my stroke. I found another, more reliable, PT and this was key. After 8 months, my therapist suggested I use a variety of other therapists to have new eyes on my situation. This was another key for me, and I alternated between 4 therapists 2x/week. They all did different approaches, stretches, and exercises, and I thrived. (This was before Vivistim, and major strides were seen after Vivistim.) Many times I was told by my OT (again before Vivistim) that she wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete an activity and I’d persevere and do it!” 

Imagine you could wave a magic wand and fix this broken system for stroke survivors. What would you fix? 

  • “Make stroke support groups easier to find by listing them in a hospital, doctor’s office, or even published in local newspapers or internet publications.” 
  • “More stroke education and the fact that stroke is mostly talked about and looked at as something that only happens to older people.” 
  • “Make all the cutting-edge treatments acknowledged and coverable by insurance! Stroke survivors need bold solutions to inspire hope…insurance is way behind the curve on treatments!” 
  • “I would fix some therapists attitudes and decisions that let us go too soon from PT/OT because they don’t know what we are capable of achieving with our drive, determination, and dedication.“ 
  • “Along with the information that the community puts out about detecting a stroke, they should have better info about life post-stroke.” 

How can we help improve stroke awareness?

Encourage better patient follow-up: 

Stroke survivors are looking for more education and guidance following their stroke. Our health systems can provide more robust resources and information to patients and their families or caregivers, so they do not feel lost post-stroke. This could include information on nearby rehab clinics, at-home exercises, the latest in stroke care technology, and local stroke support groups for patients and caregivers. If you or a loved one is a stroke survivor, urge your doctor to provide this information when getting released from the hospital. Providing this support is the first step in helping survivors feel more empowered and heard in their post-stroke care.   

Know the signs and symptoms: 

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Knowing how to spot the signs and symptoms of a stroke could help save a life. Follow the F.A.S.T. protocol to learn the warning signs: 

Face Drooping 

Arm Weakness 

Speech Difficulty 

Time to Call 911 

Find additional resources on F.A.S.T. and other stroke awareness resources here. 

Get involved in community events: 

Other ways to spread awareness are through community events and initiatives. Keep an eye out for local stroke support fundraisers, events, walks, and more and get involved however you can! These events are a great opportunity for educating the community about stroke and helping stroke survivors feel more supported and heard. Also, stroke support groups are a great way to find out about stroke awareness events. If you’re having a hard time finding any local stroke support groups, consider reaching out to your rehab center or doctor to ask for support in establishing one! 

What is Vivistim doing to raise awareness?

Chronic stroke care is an unsolved problem in stroke recovery. Up to 60% of chronic stroke survivors are left with upper extremity impairment2 and 78% are actively searching for ways to improve3 but feel left in the dark after being released from acute care. Hand and arm impairments are associated with increased risk of falling, decreased quality of life, along with increased anxiety and depression3,4,5. Vivistim® Paired VNS™ Therapy can help break through these chronic stroke limitations.  

Vivistim is the first FDA-approved stroke therapy intervention that uses vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) to help improve hand and arm function, and it can be easily applied in the home setting. In addition to being therapist directed during occupational therapy or physical therapy, Vivistim can be activated during day-to-day activities like eating, folding laundry or getting dressed. Studies have shown that this paired vagus nerve stimulation helps strengthen the brain connections needed to improve hand and arm function – as much as two to three times more compared to traditional stroke rehabilitation alone. To learn more about how the FDA-approved Vivistim® Paired VNS™ System can help in your recovery, visit this page or our blog for additional information.   

Additional Stroke Support Resources: 


  1. Young BM, Holman EA, Cramer SC, STRONG Study Investigators. Rehabilitation Therapy Doses Are Low After Stroke and Predicted by Clinical Factors. Stroke. 2023;54(3):831-839. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.122.041098  
  2. Hussain N, et al. Upper Limb Kinematics in Stroke and Healthy Controls Using Target-to-Target Task in Virtual Reality. Front Neurol. 2018;9:300. 
  3. Ashburn, A et al. “Predicting people with stroke at risk of falls.” Age and ageing vol. 37,3 (2008): 270-6. doi:10.1093/ageing/afn066 
  4. MicroTransponder 2021 survey of stroke survivors in the chronic phase of recovery. N=53. Data on file. 92% over 1-year post stroke. 26-0019-0014 Rev. o 
  5. Meyer, S., et al. Functional and motor outcome 5 years after stroke is equivalent to outcome at 2 months: follow-up of the collaborative evaluation of rehabilitation in stroke across Europe. Stroke, 2015; 46(6), 1613-1619.  
  6. Hussain N, et al. Upper Limb Kinematics in Stroke and Healthy Controls Using Target-to-Target Task in Virtual Reality. Front Neurol. 2018;9:300. 


The MicroTransponder® Vivistim® Paired VNS™ System is intended to be used to stimulate the vagus nerve during rehabilitation therapy in order to reduce upper extremity motor deficits and improve motor function in chronic ischemic stroke patients with moderate to severe arm impairment. Do not use if you have had a bilateral or left cervical vagotomy. Risks may include, but are not limited to pain after surgery, hoarseness, bruising, swelling, coughing and throat irritation. While not observed in the Vivistim studies, infection leading to explant is a risk associated with any device surgery. For full safety information, please see Individual results may vary.  

©2024 MicroTransponder Inc. All rights reserved.  Vivistim, Vivistim Therapy and Paired VNS are trademarks of MicroTransponder Inc.  

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