Every stroke is unique and people can experience a range of changes to their mood and thinking over a long time following their stroke. There has been less research into these effects of stroke than the more obvious, physical effects. This means that we know far less about these, often ‘hidden’, consequences of stroke.
As well as this, most of the research to-date into how stroke affects mood and thinking has focussed on the early stages after stroke - up to 12 months. Not many studies have included stroke survivors who had their stroke more than one year ago. This means we don’t know much about these effects of stroke long-term (i.e. beyond 12 months).
What is the research aiming to do?
The aim of this research is to increase our understanding of how stroke affects people’s thinking and mood in the longer-term. Professor Nele Demeyere and the team aim to answer several questions:
- How common are specific neuropsychological problems, such as language, attention or memory problems, after stroke and how do these change over time?
- Is there a link between certain cognitive problems and the chances of developing dementia after a stroke?
- Is there a link between specific problems with thinking and reports of fatigue after stroke?
- Which of these problems have the greatest impact on the day-to-day lives of people affected by stroke in the long-term, and what effect do they have on continued recovery after stroke?
How will the researchers do this?
200 stroke survivors who had their stroke at least one year ago will take part in this study. Researchers will meet with each participant once a year for 3 years. Each year participants will:
- Take part in a series of neuropsychological assessments, which investigate areas such as attention and memory.
- Take part in a clinical interview.
- Fill in some questionnaires, which measure things like anxiety and depression.
Everyone who takes part in this research will be part of another, ongoing study run by the researchers, which is collecting information about how a stroke has affected the participants' mood and thinking up to 6 months. This new study will allow the researchers to follow these individuals for longer, to see how these effects of stroke evolve from the short to the long-term.
What difference could this research make?
The researchers hope that the results of this study will help us to understand more about how stroke affects mood and thinking in the long-term, the impact that these effects have on people’s lives, and how these problems change over time.
Knowing more about these long-term effects of stroke will help stroke survivors and their families plan for the future. It will help to inform how services for people affected by stroke are delivered. It will also help scientists to develop effective treatments and coping strategies for these, too often overlooked, effects of stroke.
Professor Nele Demeyere was awarded this Stroke Association Priority Programme Award in 2019.