Why is this research needed?
Stroke happens in the brain, and the impacts vary depending on which part of the brain is affected. Around 50% of stroke survivors have dysarthria, a type of speech problem when speech is less clear, slurred or sounds different. This difficulty with speech can be distressing, and lead to social isolation and low confidence.
However, there is very little research into dysarthria and how speech may recover over time. There's no agreement on how to measure the impact of dysarthria on a stroke survivor’s life, which makes it impossible to find out how to develop and deliver treatment and support for this problem.
Claire’s research can change this by improving the understanding of how people recover from dysarthria and how to measure the impact of dysarthria.
What is this research aiming to do?
Claire aims to understand how people recover from dysarthria over time. She also aims to improve our understanding of how to measure the impact of dysarthria on a stroke survivor's life. This can allow researchers and healthcare professionals to measure recovery in order to find new treatments and support for stroke survivors with dysarthria.
How will the research do this?
Claire will follow the recovery of 200 stroke survivors with dysarthria for two years. She will assess their speech on admission to the stroke ward and at regular points during their recovery. She will interview 25 of these stroke survivors to get a deeper understanding of the effects of dysarthria on their lives and their loved ones.
Claire will work with people affected by stroke, clinicians and researchers to agree on what aspects of speech recovery should be measured and how best to do this.
People affected by stroke and clinicians are involved throughout this research, for example, in planning the research, interpreting findings and making recommendations as a result of the research findings.
What are the benefits of this research?
Claire’s research can improve our understanding of how stroke survivors with dysarthria can recover their ability to communicate, and how dysarthria may impact lives.
By deciding on a way to measure the impact of dysarthria, Claire’s research can lead the way for future studies to find new treatments for the communication difficulty.
Claire said: “The Stroke Association is funding my research part-time for 6 years. This means my research gives us a rare opportunity to do a study looking at stroke survivors’ recoveries over a long period of time at a minimal cost. This can help pull dysarthria out of the shadows of stroke care so stroke survivors can get the support they need.
"I know that focusing on this neglected area of research in partnership with the leading UK stroke charity can help reach my longer-term aim to develop technologies to treat and support stroke survivors with dysarthria and their loved ones.”
Meet the researcher
Claire is a researcher and speech and language therapist with 20 years’ experience. She completed her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2017. It investigated the use of technology to support treatment for people with dysarthria after stroke.
Claire’s research includes a strong focus on patient involvement. During the fellowship, she will continue to work with her key research advisor, Annette Dancer, a stroke survivor with dysarthria.