Interview with Stela Rutović – first awardee of the ESO Research Stipend Programme

Dr Hrvoje Budinčević had the opportunity to meet Stela Rutović, M.D. neurologist from Croatia, the first awardee of the ESO Research Stipend Programme.

When did you start ESO Research Stipend Programme and how long will it last?
ESO research Stipend programme started in September 2015, and it lasts till end of August 2018.

What are the title and aims of your project?
The title of my project is“PTSD as a new risk factor for recurrent stroke“. The main aim of this project are to determine prevalence and time course of PTSD which occurs after stroke and TIA and to identify predictive factors of post stroke PTSD so we could successfully detect and treat this disorder which could be an aggravating factor for stroke recovery and a cause for recurrent stroke.

Why did you choose this topic for the research?
I chose this topis because increased stroke incidence is an important medical and health public problem. Most studies that examine mental health disorders after stroke focus on depression, and there is scarse evidence about the development of post- stroke PTSD. This kind of study investigating prevalence of PTSD after stroke or TIA has never been conducted in our area and I believe that stroke-related PTSD requires our increased attention. If the results of this study confirm that patients with stroke or TIA have an increased prevalence of PTSD, it would prove that the current stroke management in some patients is probably inadequate. I hope that early detection and treatment of PTSD symptoms will help improve outcome in significant proportion of stroke patients.

Where is the project conducted?
The project is conducted in General Hospital „Dr. Josip Benčević“, Slavonski Brod, Croatia.

Who is your mentor?
My mentor is Prof. Dragutin Kadojić, MD, PhD, Head of Department for cerebrovascular diseases in Clinical Hospital Center Osijek, Croatia.

Do you have some results which you want or able to share with us?
We presented some of our results at ESOC in Prague. They showed increased prevalence of PTSD  in patients after stroke or TIA, which is higher then in general population, and we detected some of predictive factors such as severity of neurological deficit. However, regarding relatively small sample size, the results are still considered preliminary.

How will this Fellowship help you to advance in your career?
Fellowship has already enhanced my career as it gave me the possibility to network and meet new scientists, which opened doors to new research endeavours. I believe it will help me advance in my scientific and professional development. I am very honoured and satisfied to have gotten this fellowship and the opportunity to collaborate with ESO in this manner.