Research is helping survivors through their rehabilitation to recovery
Each year more than 1000 Victorians receive care at Western Health after experiencing a stroke. It's a huge team effort to care for these patients from their initial emergency presentation to their recovery and rehabilitation. Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide and more than half of survivors will need help with some aspect of their life on a daily basis. During National Stroke Week we wanted to share with you some of the Allied Health led research that we have been conducting to improve the lives of stroke survivors. Our physiotherapists, who play a key role in supporting stroke survivors through their recovery, are constantly trying to improve the care they provide patients by undertaking research that can be taken from the bench side to the bedside. Our staff also contributed to new books on stroke, which includes information on the role of exercise after stroke and telehealth delivered exercise interventions for survivors.
Associate Professor Cathy Said, the inaugural Associate Professor Physiotherapy, Western Health and the University of Melbourne said rehabilitation is critical to recovery following stroke.
"The physiotherapy and allied health teams at Western Health are committed to ensuring stroke survivors receive treatments based on the best available evidence," said A/Prof Said "We are proud to be working with stroke survivors on a wide range of research projects to improve care." Here are just some of the most recent research projects undertaken with our partners from universities and other health services, including: the University of Melbourne, Victoria University.
A trial investigating how 'huff and puff' exercise could benefit stroke survivors. Around 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity is recommended after stroke to aid recovery, quality of life and reduce the risk of future strokes. Our study found moderate-intensity fitness training was safe, but it was challenging for stroke survivors to reach the time and intensity targets. This study was funded by a Western Health Research Grant.
Read the paper here
Many stroke survivors suffer debilitating fatigue, which is often underappreciated by carers and can hamper rehabilitation efforts. Researchers interviewed stroke survivors attending outpatient rehabilitation and their carers. They found survivors largely learnt to manage fatigue on their own. Some people reported that their carers helped them manage their fatigue, others felt their family was dismissive of the symptom and set unrealistic expectations. The study encouraged clinicians to: screen for fatigue, provide flexible scheduling and educate individuals and carers about how to manage the symptom. This study was funded by a Western Health Research Grant.
Read the paper here
TRIPS AND FALLS
Stroke survivors with gait impairments are at an increased risk of falls, some of which can be caused by tripping. Researchers have found that stroke survivors have greater variability in foot clearance on their affected limb, which may increase their risk of trips. The findings suggest stroke survivors be given gait training, using technology that gives them real-time feedback while they walk, which could help reduce their risk of falls. This study was funded by the NHMRC.
One of the best ways members of the community can maximise a person's quality of life following a stroke is to ensure they receive rapid medical treatment when they first experience symptoms.
Think F.A.S.T and act FAST, to reduce the risk of stroke-related brain damage:
F. Check their face. Has their mouth dropped?
A. Can they lift both arms?
S. is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
T. Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.
Find out more about the other signs of stroke, including severe and abrupt headache, or loss of vision, or dizziness, visit the Stroke Foundation website: https://strokefoundation.org.au/about-stroke/learn/signs-of-stroke