Improving the lives of people after minor stroke or transient ischaemic attack

NARI has received funding from Angior to implement and evaluate an exercise and healthy ageing program for people after minor stroke or transient ischaemic attack.

Each year tens of thousands of Australians experience a minor stroke or TIA.  Although exact estimates of the incidence and prevalence are not known, it is estimated that the incidence of TIA may be as high as 1.1 per 1,000 every year, and that minor stroke and TIA may account for up to about 80% of all cerebrovascular disease.

Dr Frances Batchelor, NARI director of clinical gerontology, said that initial NARI research showed that balance in people with TIA/ minor stroke was 25% poorer and walking speed was 30% slower than people of the same age and gender who had not had a TIA or minor stroke.

“This is concerning because the pilot group had no obvious neurological impairments and most were not receiving any rehabilitation. These ongoing problems with walking and balance persist for months and can lead to a much higher risk of falls than before the TIA or minor stroke,” she said.

This new study, the first of its kind, will pick up on the previous study findings which underscored the need to  implement and evaluate an exercise treatment and healthy ageing program for people who have experienced TIA or minor stroke.

“We anticipate the benefits for research participants will include improved walking and balance, and reduced risk of further stroke by addressing the lifestyle risk factors that contribute to this risk such as high blood pressure and unhealthy diet,” Dr Batchelor said.

Participants will receive a 6 month home-based exercise and healthy ageing program provided by a physiotherapist. They will be recruited from inpatient wards or outpatient clinics at Melbourne metropolitan hospitals.

Research will be led by Dr Batchelor and Sue Williams, NARI research physiotherapist.