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Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Assistant Professor Neil Spratt, Institution: The University of Newcastle

2013 NSW CVRN Research Development Project Grant

Years funded: 2014-2020


Despite higher levels of activity being associated with better stroke recovery, stroke patients on most rehabilitation units spend the majority of their day inactive and alone.

Laboratory models have suggested that environmental enrichment, such as providing equipment, facilitates physical, cognitive and social activity. This promotes rewiring of the brain after stroke and has been found to significantly enhance functional recovery.

Preliminary work on the use of environmental enrichment for stroke patients using individual (e.g. iPods, word puzzles) and communal (e.g. access to interactive gaming, computer, books/newspapers, jigsaws) enrichment in a rehabilitation unit has shown that it encourages patients to be more active. Greater activity during rehabilitation has numerous benefits, the most important of which is achieving better functional recovery, and subsequently, greater independence.

Neil's project, ‘Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity’ (AREISSA), is a Phase II trial involving four rehabilitation units that will determine the safety, feasibility and patient and staff acceptability of this model of environmental enrichment during stroke rehabilitation. Results from AREISSA will be used to inform a future large scale cluster randomised controlled trial to determine the effect of environmental enrichment on stroke recovery and stroke survivor quality of life.

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