Professors Fiona Rowe, Audrey Bowen, and Dr Emma Patchwood are at the forefront of transforming stroke care for generations of stroke survivors - thanks to gifts left in the Wills of people like you.

Professor Audrey Bowen’s passion for neuropsychology was sparked as a student at University College Dublin back in 1985, following an encounter with an inspirational lecturer.

But it wasn’t until she met stroke survivors and their families during her Masters’ studies at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, that her future path became clear.

Listening to the stories they told me about the impact of stroke on their lives and on the lives of their families taught me more than any degree could.

Now, thirty years later, her research at the University of Manchester is focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the impact stroke has on the people who survive such a traumatic event. 

“I’m developing therapies that enable people to adapt and cope with the lasting effects of stroke,” she reveals, “and designing trials that will test the effectiveness of current and new therapies.”

She’s currently spearheading efforts to develop new ways of helping people who experience difficulty speaking and reading after stroke, walking or navigating a wheelchair safely, relearning everyday activities such as self-care, and re-establishing important social roles such as visiting friends and returning to work.

“As researchers, we’ve benefited greatly from a mindset shift,” she adds, “so that we now see patients as active partners in our studies, rather than passive participants.
I’m so excited by the rise of patient, carer and public involvement in our research”. 

Dr Emma Patchwood joined forces with her mentor Prof Bowen in 2006, working with her as a researcher on a speech therapy trial for stroke survivors.

Stroke is so devastating and I realised early on how important good quality research is to improve the lives of the people living with it.

Today, Dr Patchwood’s research focuses on mood, cognition (how people process thoughts) and communication for stroke survivors. And her work is underpinned and inspired by strong collaboration with stroke survivors and their carers.

“They are so passionate, hard-working and insightful,” she says. “Every day, they remind me why I do this job.”

Dr Patchwood’s also excited by work happening globally to change the face of rehabilitation and recovery. 

“For so long, the spotlight has been on helping people survive stroke; now we need to help them thrive. There’s so much great work happing in that arena.”

“So many stroke survivors report feeling like they’ve been abandoned by services after they leave hospital,” she adds. “That needs to change – and we’re doing everything we can to make it happen.”

Professor Fiona Rowe’s work at the University of Liverpool focuses on identifying and managing visual problems in stroke survivors – and developing new care pathways that could revolutionise the quality of individualised vision care.

Stroke-related visual problems were – and still are – one of the biggest categories of neurological visual problems referred to orthoptists.

When asked what first attracted her to the field she says,  “It was clear that more research was needed.”

Right now, she’s looking for new ways to improve the identification of visual impairment, the impact it can have on the quality of life, and the systems in place to rehabilitate survivors.

 “Stroke doesn’t spare any age,” she says, “and the Stroke Association supports research across the stroke pathway for all ages and from prevention all the way through to long-term care.”

“Our research couldn’t continue without the generosity of those who pledge gifts in their wills,” she adds. “The future legacy of these gifts really will change lives.”