Murdoch University study gives hope to stroke survivors


Stroke researchers Hakuei Fujiyama and Ann-Maree Vallence.
Picture: Will Russell www.communitypix.com.au   d483956
Stroke researchers Hakuei Fujiyama and Ann-Maree Vallence. Picture: Will Russell www.communitypix.com.au d483956

MURDOCH University researchers are looking into ways to improve mobility for stroke survivors.

School of Psychology and Exercise Science senior lecturer Ann-Maree Vallence and lecturer Hakuei Fujiyama are using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to improve balance in stroke survivors and healthy older adults.

The research involves using weak electrical stimulation to increase activity in specific brain regions, which is applied by small electrodes on the scalp.

Dr Vallence said they were looking to improve voluntary movement in arms and legs.

“We want to improve movements like walking, balancing and reaching or grasping; these are important for everyday tasks, like making a cup of tea,” she said. “Our research aims to understand what processes in the brain are important for movement, so that we can try to restore those processes in a damaged brain to help people relearn movements.

“We are looking to increase activity levels in the key brain areas, which we think will lead to improvements in movement.”

Dr Vallence said they were measuring characteristics of gait, or walking, and balance ability.

“We started the project six months ago and we will look to complete it by the end of the year,” she said. “We are looking for about another 10 people to take part in the research, people who are chronic survivors, which means they had the stroke more than six months ago and experience some lasting effects in terms of their movement ability.”

For details, email Ann-Maree.Vallence@murdoch.edu.au or call 9360 7464.

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