Engaging Carepartners in the Rehabilitation Process Post-Stroke

The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR) recently awarded the 2021 $100,000 Paris Patla Physical Therapy Research Grant to Sarah Blanton, PT, DPT. Blanton, a Professor at Emory University’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, works with stroke survivors and their carepartners to integrate the family into rehabilitation and improve stroke outcomes.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in the US. Much more is needed to be known about the effect on carepartners and their role in recovery. The new, web-based carepartner-focused intervention that Blanton is studying will foster problem-solving and skill-building for carepartners in the hopes of better outcomes during gait rehabilitation in the home setting.

“Reflecting on my own role as a carepartner for my father after his stroke, I noticed that even though I was a PT, I had not sufficiently taken into account the broader goals of my family when I was guiding his care,” said Blanton. “It was really only after we had collaboratively developed family-centered goals that he began to make strides in his independence back into community mobility and participation. Those lessons help me re-evaluate my clinical and research focus and understand how this approach may have a broader impact in stroke rehabilitation.”

As a rehabilitation researcher with 30 years of experience in stroke rehabilitation, Blanton would like to develop more holistic, family-centered telerehabilitation during the stroke recovery process. These interventions could support better patient adherence and self-management during the recovery process.

“The valuable data and lessons gained from this innovative and high-impact work will inform future implementation for a larger-scale clinical trial,” said Blanton. “It will also provide new insights regarding the role of carepartner-engagement in promoting sustainable improvements in walking-related function, overall health, and wellness in stroke survivors and their carepartners that translate beyond the research laboratory or clinic to the home and community settings.”

Her study, “Evaluation of a Carepartner-Integrated Telehealth Gait Rehabilitation Program for Persons with Stroke,” is made possible by the Paris Patla Endowment Fund. Dr. Trisha Kesar is working alongside Blanton as Co-Investigator on this project.

Select Foundation Grants and Scholarships Awarded



  • Blanton S, Clark PC, Lyles RH, Cotsonis G, Jones BD, Reiss A, et al. “A web-based carepartnerintegrated rehabilitation program for persons with stroke: Study protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial.” Pilot and feasibility studies. 2019;5:58

  • Blanton S, Dunbar S, Clark PC. “Content validity and satisfaction with a caregiver-integrated webbased rehabilitation intervention for persons with stroke.” Top. Stroke Rehabil. 2018;25:168-173

  • Blanton S CP, Cotsonis G, Dunbar S. “A carepartner-integrated telehealth rehabilitation program influences carepartner life changes, strain, and fatigue.” American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Conference. 2021