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ECU Speech Pathology secures prestigious research grants

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

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After just four years in existence ECU’s Speech Pathology program has secured two prestigious research grants as part of the most recent National Health and Medical Research Council funding round.

The two projects received more than $1.3 million and represent cutting edge research in the field of acquired communication disorders.

ECU’s Foundation Chair in Speech Pathology Professor Elizabeth Armstrong will lead both projects which will investigate different aspects of the effects of stroke and its treatment.

The first project titled Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech: An RCT of aphasia therapy after stroke will focus on early treatment of aphasia, a language disorder affecting one in three stroke survivors and will involve collaboration from hospitals and researchers from across the country.

Aphasia leaves survivors socially isolated and unable to communicate by interfering with talking, understanding speech, reading and writing.

Research suggests early aphasia therapy can improve recovery of speaking and understanding however more than 70 per cent of sufferers do not get early treatment.

ECU’s study will promote a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to brain recovery and aims to show that very early therapy is beneficial and cost effective.

The second project will investigate communication disorders in Aboriginal people caused by stroke and brain injuries from around Western Australia.

Titled Missing voices: Communication difficulties after stroke and traumatic brain injury in Indigenous Australians the project received $634,087.74 in funding.

Indigenous people in WA are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke or traumatic brain injury and less likely to seek rehabilitation than other members of the community.

The study will examine the extent and impact of acquired communication disorders in Aboriginal people with the ultimate aim of developing service delivery models to improve treatment for Aboriginal people.

The project team is made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, and local Aboriginal mediators will be employed in areas across the State to facilitate community involvement.

For more information on ECU’s speech pathology course visit the Future Students website.

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