Rehabilitation and living with disability

We are leaders in stroke rehabilitation research along with patient, carers and public involvement, both nationally and internationally.

We aim to improve experience and health outcomes and transform the lives of people affected by neurodisability. Our work promotes an understanding of unmet needs, recovery mechanisms, effectiveness of interventions and optimal care pathways for those living with neurological conditions.

Since 2010, we have led and collaborated on research into cognitive, communication, motor and mood difficulties.

Our research

Some of our research activities include:

Development of a core outcome set for clinical research on interventions for speech impairments in stroke (COS-Speech)

Funder: NIHR
Claire Mitchell, Jamie Kirkham, Paul Conroy, Annette Dancer, Audrey Bowen

Dysarthria (reduced speech intelligibility) is a common consequence of stroke leading to social isolation and low self-confidence. This speech difficulty after stroke has been neglected with few research studies.

The study aims to agree what aspects of communication we should measure when monitoring speech recovery: what is the core outcome set (COS) for all types of dysarthria caused by any type of stroke?

Speech after stroke recovery study (SayS): exploring speech recovery over time and agreement of a core outcome set with measures

Funder: Stroke Association
Researcher: Claire Mitchell and Paul Conroy
Supervisor: Audrey Bowen

Around 50% of stroke survivors have dysarthria. This research aims to understand how people recover from dysarthria over time and 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 to find new treatments and support for stroke survivors with dysarthria.

  • Learn more about SayS (Stroke Association).

How does the relationship between therapist and stroke survivor affect stroke recovery?

Funder: Stroke Association
Researcher: Lauren Lucas
Supervisor: Audrey Bowen, Sarah Peters and Sarah Cotterill

Recovery after stroke is tough, but with the right specialist support and a ton of courage and determination, the brain can adapt. Almost 75% of stroke patients require physiotherapy at home, and survivors may need support for many years after to live the best life they can.

The relationship between a therapist and patient is thought to be important. However, very little is known about how this relationship impacts recovery with the physical effects of stroke in the long term.

This research is the first step to understand if new guidelines, training, tools and treatments should focus on this aspect of care to improve recovery after stroke. The research will also identify the most important aspects of the relationship that could improve recovery and life after stroke in the long term.

Wellbeing After Stroke (WAterS) pilot study 

Funder: Stroke Association
Researcher: Emma Patchwood

Stroke survivors face a range of mental health challenges adjusting post-stroke. There is a lack of treatment options and clinical psychologist workforce to deliver support. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been used successfully in clinical services to improve wellbeing.

The study will recruit and train up to 10 paraprofessionals with some experience of supporting stroke survivors. It also aims to recruit up to 60 stroke survivors in the community who are at least 4 months post-stroke and experiencing distress adjusting to their stroke.

The investigators aimed to make everything accessible for people with mild/moderate difficulties with thinking and communicating. Recruitment takes place across England, over a 12-month period.

The study will test how feasible and acceptable it is to deliver our remote ACT intervention to stroke survivors, using a ‘modified randomised consent’ design.

  • Learn more about WAterS (Stroke Association).

VAlidation of the Mcast CommunicAtion Screening Tool (VAMCAST)

Funder: NIHR
Researcher: Dr Mark Jayes

This project aims to improve mental capacity assessment. Mental capacity refers to the ability to make informed decisions. People may find it harder to make a decision if they have difficulties using their communication and/or cognitive (thinking) skills.

By law, health and social care staff have to complete a mental capacity assessment if they think someone they are working with may have difficulty making a decision. Currently, many staff find these assessments challenging and their practice needs to be improved.

The MCAST has been designed according to user-centred design methods to ensure it is responsive to users’ needs. This means that health and social care staff and patients were directly involved in the design of the toolkit.

Evidence from the research literature, case law and a staff focus group study was used to identify what components the toolkit should include to make it useful and useable.