Improving support after young stroke

La Trobe University stroke researcher Dr Dana Wong is a chief investigator for a major, $10 million collaborative project to bring faster, personalised clinical care and longer-term support for young people with stroke.

The five-year project, funded by the Medical Research Future Fund, and led by Professors Julie Bernhardt and Vincent Thijs from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, will deliver Australia’s first young stroke service.

The service will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, people living with stroke, therapists and digital health designers from across Australia – including Dr Wong, a clinical neuropsychologist and Associate Professor at La Trobe.

Associate Professor Wong will contribute her expertise to the development, implementation and evaluation of different types of neurorehabilitation within the new service.

“Young people who experience stroke are profoundly impacted not just by physical disability, but by significant changes in their cognitive, emotional and psychosocial functioning. This can affect their quality of life and participation in important life roles such as work, parenting, and social relationships” she said.

“These “invisible” disabilities are major areas of unmet need. My work will focus on determining the best way to ensure access to effective support and treatment for young people who, due to stroke, have difficulty with issues such as memory, fatigue and mental health. This includes service delivery through digital and telehealth modalities.”

The project will commence shortly with a pilot clinical hub at the Florey Institute in Melbourne and a second hub in Adelaide, with the new young stroke service aiming to address current gaps.

Co-lead of the overall project, the Florey Institute’s Professor Julie Bernhardt said: “The new service will build, test and embed an innovative, digitally-enabled young stroke service to overcome geographic boundaries and better meet the long-term care need of young people who experience stroke,” said Professor Bernhardt.

“By working with young people living with stroke to co-design and deliver new evidence-based approaches to diagnose and manage stroke, we aim to implement clinical interventions that improve outcomes and help young people return to work,” said Professor Thijs.

A quarter of all strokes in Australia are experienced by people aged between 18 and 45 years old. Young people who experience stroke are frequently underdiagnosed and underserved in the Australian healthcare system due to critical gaps in the current stroke care pathway.

Up to 2000 young people and their families will be part of building and testing this new service. Following the project’s success, the team hope to expand the service Australia-wide.

Community and research partners including The Stroke Foundation, Curve Tomorrow, Centre for Digital Transformation of Health, University of Melbourne, Flinders University, Monash University,  University of Technology Sydney, Austin and Melbourne Health and the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry (AuSCR), will be integral to the project’s success.

Media Contact: Kathryn Powley | | 0456 764 371