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Boost for stroke recovery research

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

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An ECU researcher investigating an overlooked condition in stroke survivors will use a grant worth almost $250,000 to commence a new study based in Perth.

PhD candidate and physiotherapist Jess Nolan was awarded a $234,288 Raine Medical Research Foundation Clinician Research Fellowship. She aims to improve recovery for people with lateropulsion, which causes stroke survivors to list or lean to one side.

Lateropulsion – also known as ‘pushing’ – affects around 50 per cent of stroke survivors requiring rehabilitation and leaves people with the struggle to sit, stand or move well. Only 18 per cent of people with severe lateropulsion make a complete recovery during inpatient rehabilitation.

Ms Nolan said she hopes her study will shed light on a poorly understood condition.

“Lateropulsion can significantly impact on a person’s quality of life and functional ability, so it’s really important for us to look deeper into the condition and find the type of rehabilitation that is most effective,” she said.

Ms Nolan’s study on lateropulsion is one of the biggest in the world and paves the way for advancing stroke rehabilitation.

“The ultimate goal is to better understand the needs of people with the condition so we can inform best practice guidelines for their recovery and rehabilitation both in hospital and after discharge,” she said.

“The project will also develop the first international consensus statements for best practice management of lateropulsion, which will serve to drive improved clinical practice.

“People with lateropulsion need to have the chance to make meaningful improvements to regain their quality of life.”

Ms Nolan has already completed the first phase of the study and will now recruit around 150 stroke survivors from Osborne Park Hospital to take part in the next stages. The study is expected to be finalised in late 2023.

Ms Nolan’s PhD supervisors are Professor Barbara Singer and Associate Professor Erin Godecke.

Other ECU researchers to receive 2021 Raine Medical Research Foundation grants and awards include:

  • Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst, School of Medical and Health Sciences, received a $29,832 Healy Research Collaboration Award for her research into dietary nitrate and cardiometabolic, cognitive and mental health outcomes. She was also awarded the prestigious KY Wong Memorial Prize of $5000.
  • Dr Nicola Bondonno, School of Medical and Health Sciences, received a $10,000 Raine Priming Grant for her investigation into the importance of the dietary source of nitrate for cancer risk.

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