Monash Researchers Awarded Grants to Assist Stroke Survivors

Dr Rene Stolwyk and Dr Dana Wong of the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN), together with Associate Professor Dominique Cadilhac from the School of Clinical Sciences, have recently been successful in obtaining funding from the Victorian Government via the Victorian Stroke  Clinical Network (VSCN) for two separate projects relating to the subacute care of patients with stroke.

It is estimated that approximately one third of stroke survivors will develop memory problems, and yet stroke rehabilitation centres still tend to focus more on physical rehabilitation, as opposed to cognitive difficulties and psychological recovery. The first of the MICCN projects that received the  VSCN grant, led by neuropsychologist Dr Dana Wong, focuses on increasing access to a group rehabilitation program for patients with stroke who have memory problems. The Monash Memory Skills Group, which has helped improve everyday memory functioning for patients with stroke since launching at the Monash  Psychology Centre in Notting Hill in 2014, will be rolled out and evaluated at two public health services, in collaboration with Austin Health and Monash Health.

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."

The second project, led by Dr Rene Stolwyk and Lauren Arthurson of Echuca Regional Health, will see the development and evaluation of a new teleneuropsychology rehabilitation service for Echuca Regional Health, a collaborating partner organisation. 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. Project Coordinator, Lauren Arthurson, said “The award of these grants has provided a fantastic opportunity for Echuca Regional Health to collaborate with Monash’s  leading researchers, whereby we can provide the necessary support to our stroke patients. We are very grateful for the funding received from the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network”.

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

The award of these grants truly acknowledges the collaboration between MICCN and the School of Clinical Sciences, where leading research is developed on campus and translated out into the real world through fostering collaboration with health and industry partners. 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.

MICCN congratulates all three researchers on the award of the VSCN grants for both projects and wishes them every success with the projects.

Dr Dana Wong, t: 03 9905 3933, e:
Dr Rene Stolwyk, t: 03 9902 0099, e:
A/Prof Dominique Cadilhac t: 03 8572 2657, e: