Improving quality of life after stroke

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Associate Professor Gail Robinson is passionate about rehabilitation after stroke, studying how stroke disrupts cognition and behaviour to improve quality of life. 

A clinical neuropsychologist and researcher at Queensland Brain Institute, Associate Professor Robinson is investigating stroke and neurological disorders. Her research has informed the type of tests doctors can perform at the bedside to rapidly understand behaviours shortly after a stroke.

“We are looking to see what happens in the first few weeks after a stroke – working out what we measure and see in terms of changes to thinking skills, and this helps to predict how someone will be doing a year down the track,” Associate Professor Robinson said. 

“The thinking skills and behaviours affected in stroke – language, talking, memory, vision – cause massive change for an individual. Some people retain or recover their function and for most it spontaneously gets better, but some people need more help.”

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The cognitive problems identified in the first few days after a stroke can be used to predict what problems continue later on – over the next year or more – whether it is difficulties managing finances, shopping, cooking or interacting with people. 

Social interaction and conversation is often affected by stroke and one common side effect is not being able to stop talking – and not even realising that you might be oversharing. 

Associate Professor Robinson has done a lot of work studying specific parts of the brain and how they start and stop behaviour. 

“We have shown that there are focal regions in the front of the brain that have a role in the starting and stopping mechanisms, which help us to control our behaviour, and this knowledge has helped us devise tests and identify problems very early on.”

“One man who came to do research with us had trouble stopping talking in social situations after a right hemisphere stroke. We devised a personal rehabilitation programme for him  and it was a great achievement for us as well as him when he was able to go back to work.” 

“My goal is that people are able to get back to their daily activities and not have problems long term – if someone feels they can manage every day without the stroke being the main thing and they have overcome the difficulties, then I am very happy.” 

Last updated:
8 September 2020