Monday, February 1, 2016 - 11:30

People recovering from mild stroke will soon be aided by a new smart phone app, thanks to University of Queensland researchers.

UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Associate Professor Louise Gustafsson has received a $50,000 National Stroke Foundation grant to trial a newly-developed app that will measure a person’s lifespace, the physical space a person lives in and travels through in their daily life.

The trial is in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Queensland Brain Institute’s Asia Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation.

“Lifespace is a measure of the geographic space in which a person lives and conducts their roles and activities and captures the extent to which they travel and their patterns of movement within the community,” Dr Gustafsson said.

The project will contribute to a larger project involving researchers at the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Griffith University and the Australian Catholic University.  

“People recovering from a mild stroke may experience difficulties such as thinking and fatigue that do not become readily apparent until they are attempting to return to their everyday roles and activities,” Dr Gustafsson said.

”We hope to find an effective way to assist mild stroke survivors to maximize their life roles and activities after stroke.

“This research is unique in that we are providing an intervention that includes regular telephone contact and follow-up from a health professional and aims to support people with mild stroke to manage their symptoms, physical and psychosocial consequences, and rehabilitation needs and improve their lifestyle after discharge from acute care.

“People with mild stroke have been under represented in research until recently, so the grant will go towards addressing a very important gap in care."

The UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences received three of 11 grants awarded by the National Stroke Foundation for 2016.  

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Head Professor Louise Hickson said it is very exciting to see such excellent research projects receive funding from the National Stroke Foundation. 

“These projects will help to improve the patient journey for people with stroke, by supporting clinicians in the hospital environment to provide the best possible treatment and by supporting people with stroke to be able to participate in the community after they leave the hospital,” Professor Hickson said.

Other UQ projects funded include $50,000 awarded to Dr Caitlin Brandenburg for research using a smart phone rehabilitation app for stroke survivors with aphasia and $20,000 to Alexia Rohde and Professor Linda Worrall for their project to identify aphasia using a rational clinical examination.

National Stroke Foundation Acting Chief Executive Officer Mary Orgill said high quality research was vital to improving outcomes for Australian stroke patients.

“More than 11,000 lives are lost to stroke every year and many more people are left with lifelong disability,” Ms Orgill said.

“It is crucial that we continually look at how we can improve the prevention, treatment and management of this insidious disease.”

Information about the National Stroke Foundation’s Research Grants is available at www.strokefoundation.com.au/what-we-do/research/research-grants

Media: Kirsten O’Leary k.oleary@uq.edu.au, 07 3365 7436, 0412 307 594; UQ Associate Professor Louise Gustafsson, l.gustafsson@uq.edu.au, 07 3365 2926.