Supervisor: Prof Marion Walker
Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability in the UK. The most common physical difficulties reported by stroke survivors are arm and leg weakness. It’s important that effective rehabilitation is started early after stroke, as delays can have affect recovery. Delays can also lead to stroke survivors developing secondary conditions, such as contractures.
Orthotic splints and braces can be used to help with physical difficulties by aiding mobility and making performing daily tasks easier, as well as reducing discomfort and the risk of complications. Research is needed to see if early use of orthotics could support faster and easier mobilising, a quicker return to daily life, and help to prevent other problems from developing.
What is the research aiming to do?
This research will investigate whether it’s possible to design and carry out a large study into the clinical effectiveness of an early orthotic intervention after stroke.
The research will be carried out in several stages:
1. Review previous studies to find existing evidence on orthotic involvement after stroke.
2. Discuss the results of the review, and the results of a previous national survey of orthotic use in stroke rehabilitation, with experts such as orthotists, stroke clinicians, and people affected by stroke. This will determine what early orthotic involvement should look like and will influence the design of the trial in stage 3.
3. Carry out a small randomised controlled trial to compare early orthotic involvement vs. usual care in stroke patients.
4. Interview stroke survivors and clinicians to understand their experiences of the study and early orthotic involvement.
What difference could this research make?
The findings of this research will help to design and develop a larger study investigating the effectiveness of early orthotic involvement after stroke.