Research aims to improve access to key therapy after stroke

New research exploring the delivery of rehabilitation from stroke via telehealth has been awarded a $50,000 grant in the 2021 Stroke Foundation Research Grants round.

The project, ReCITE (Remote Constraint Induced Therapy of the upper Extremity): An implementation study, will investigate telehealth as an alternative to face to face treatment for Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT). The therapy is to treat arm weakness after stroke.

Lauren Christie, from the Allied Health Research Unit and Nursing Research Institute (NRI), St Vincent’s Health Network, Sydney and Australian Catholic University was among four early career researchers to receive a Seed Grant as part of the Stroke Foundation research program.

Ms Christie said lessons from this research study had the potential to benefit thousands of Australians impacted by stroke, particularly survivors of stroke where mobility may be an issue or those living in regional and rural areas of Australia where access to therapists may be limited.

“Currently around one third of people with stroke are eligible for CIMT, but less than 12 percent receive it,” Ms Christie said.

“There is much scope to boost this number via telehealth, delivering this therapy to people who are unable to attend the necessary sessions every day for two to three weeks in person.”

Stroke Foundation Research Advisory Committee Chair Professor Amanda Thrift said the pandemic saw the use of telehealth in stroke rapidly expanded. It was now vital research was conducted to ensure the benefits of healthcare delivery via this medium were maximised.

“Stroke Foundation’s Research Grant round will kick start this work, providing our researchers with funds to start projects and establish strong foundations for future, larger studies,” Prof Thrift said.

More than 27,400 Australians experienced a stroke for the first time in 2020 and there are more than 445,000 survivors of stroke living in our community. Regional and rural Australia is bearing the brunt of stroke’s burden. Regional Australians are 17 percent more likely to experience a stroke than their metropolitan counterparts, regional Australians are also more likely to suffer poorer outcomes from stroke due to limited access to best practice treatment and care.

Stroke Foundation has awarded almost $5.3 million to more than 200 researchers since 2008.

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