Monday, 3 October 2016

Monash research to improve cognitive and psychological recovery for patients with stroke

Associate Professor Cadilhac
Improving cognitive difficulties for patients with stroke is the aim of two collaborative research studies at Monash University, funded by the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network (VSCN).

It is estimated that approximately one third of stroke survivors will develop memory problems, yet stroke rehabilitation centres tend to focus on physical rehabilitation rather than cognitive difficulties and psychological recovery.

Associate Professor Dominique Cadilhac from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) with Dr Rene Stolwyk and Dr Dana Wong of the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences will undertake two projects relating to the subacute care of patients with stroke.

Associate Professor Cadilhac, Head of Translational Public Health and Evaluation (Stroke and Ageing Research), and her team will conduct program sustainability and feasibility evaluations for both projects.

“The ultimate goal is to provide evidence from these projects that will support further expanding of the availability of these neuropsychological services to patients with stroke throughout Australia,” said Associate Professor Cadilhac.

The first project, led by neuropsychologist Dr Wong, focuses on increasing access to a group rehabilitation program for patients with stroke who have memory problems.

“In collaboration with Monash Health and Austin Health, we will roll out and evaluate the effectiveness of the Monash Memory Skills Group, which has helped improve everyday memory functioning for patients with stroke,” said Associate Professor Cadilhac.
Barry Moore, a stroke survivor who has participated in the Monash Memory Skills Group, said
“With physical issues from a stroke you have access to the support of physiotherapists.  For the mental stuff, however, I really did not know where to go. The Memory Skills Group at Monash was wonderful for me; my brain suffered fairly badly in my stroke and this was the first time anyone had addressed it. The course had many practical aspects relating to memory but also treated how the mind could work better. It was terrific for us to have those discussions with experts."

Developing and evaluating a new teleneuropsychology rehabilitation service for Echuca Regional Health, a collaborating partner organisation, is the aim of the second project led by Dr Stolwyk.

“The hospital’s stroke survivors have not previously had access to such a service, which will provide assessment and treatment for stroke-related cognitive, behavioural and mood impairments,” said Dr Stolwyk.

Echuca Regional Health’s Stroke Coordinator Lauren Arthurson said the VSCN-funded research grants will enable Echuca Health to collaborate with Monash’s leading researchers to provide the necessary support to their stroke patients.

“These grants acknowledge the collaboration between the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health and the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences and enable translational research with health and industry partners,” said Associate Professor Cadilhac.

“Together we are making a difference to the health of Victorians through the provision of access to cognitive assessment and rehabilitation for people living with stroke.”

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