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Media Release

September 8 2010

Researching the road to recovery for stroke sufferers


After a stroke people need as much physical therapy as possibleWith 60,000 Australians expected to suffer from a stroke this year alone, a new study aims to find the best approach to rehabilitation to help sufferers recover more quickly and reduce their stay in hospital.
 
After a stroke, people going through rehabilitation need as much physical therapy as possible to achieve the best results. Now UniSA researchers have been awarded a grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council to investigate a variety of approaches so that patients recover independence and get home as quickly as possible.
 
The CIRCIT (Circuit class therapy for Increasing Rehabilitation Intensity of Therapy) trial, led by UniSA’s Dr Susan Hillier, will compare usual care services operating five days a week, therapy for seven days a week instead of the usual five, and group circuit class therapy, which was shown to dramatically increase the amount of therapy people receive in a recent pilot in South Australia.
 
Dr Hillier, of UniSA’s School of Health Sciences, says that the study will measure how quickly patients recover their ability to walk and use their arms, how quickly patients can leave hospital and which approach might be the most cost-effective.
 
“Patients may become independent faster, which is a huge drive after such a devastating impact on their lives,” says Dr Hillier.
 
“It’s easy to forget that rehabilitation inpatients may receive only two or three hours of therapy a day, five days a week, so people can become bored and frustrated at being in hospital without much to do. Increased therapy may be able to ease some of this frustration.
 
“It’s exciting that South Australia is leading the way with this novel trial. All three major South Australian public rehabilitation centres (Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, Repatriation General Hospital and St Margaret’s Rehabilitation Hospital) are involved, with UniSA’s Dr Coralie English co-ordinating the trial sites.
 
“The first four participants have been recruited to the trial through Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, with the other two sites recruiting now. The trial will also expand to include hospitals in Victoria,” says Dr Hillier.
 
During the trial, stroke sufferers in rehabilitation will be randomly assigned to either usual care therapy over five days a week, usual care therapy over seven days a week or group circuit class therapy for up to three hours a day, five days a week.




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