Researchers tackling two debilitating consequences of stroke have had their work boosted thanks the Stroke Foundation 2022 Research Grants program.
Jessica Campbell has been awarded $99,869 over two years to lead a new project aimed at improving the lives of people with aphasia, a condition that affects people's ability to talk, read, write or understand what others are saying.
Emma Wallace received a $53,402 grant to support her work developing tele-rehabilitation program for people with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing,
Dr Campbell, from the University of Queensland, said aphasia is a common and chronic disability.
"Aphasia increases the risk of social isolation and depression and often makes it difficult or impossible to people to return to work," she said.
"It is difficulty with language, not a loss of intelligence. One good treatment for aphasia is intensive therapy, but for some people, that is not enough for long-lasting language improvement.
"We want to achieve long-term improvement to ultimately improve quality of life."
Dr Campbell is the first recipient of the Lady Southey Aphasia Research Grant.
It will support a project titled CHAT-Maintain: Maintaining language and quality of life gains with low-dose technology-delivered aphasia therapy.
In the trial, people with aphasia will be trained to drive self-directed home therapy with technology for six months after they have completed intensive therapy.
"Speech therapists, volunteers and peer mentors will provide ongoing support," Dr Campbell said.
"The results of people participating in CHAT-Maintain will be compared with those who have completed intensive therapy without this support, providing an insight into the success of the intervention."
Stroke Foundation Research advisory committee chair Amanda Thrift said this research is a positive step towards helping people with aphasia for generations to come.
"Aphasia is difficult condition to study. As a result, people living with aphasia have been under-represented in research,'' Professor Thrift said.
"We are pleased to support this important study through Stroke Foundation's first dedicated aphasia grant in its 25-year history."
Although up to 50 per cent of survivors of stroke will experience dysphagia, Dr Wallace says it is a hidden disability, which has a significant impact on well-being and long-term health for survivors of stroke.
"Dysphagia causes frequent choking, dehydration, malnutrition and social isolation, but often goes untreated," the University of Sydney researcher said.
"Access to swallowing rehabilitation is limited, especially for those living in rural and remote areas."
Through her grant, Dr Wallace will examine consumer satisfaction and feasibility of a low-cost tele-rehabilitation program to improve swallowing for survivors of stroke.
This information will inform how the program can be adapted and tailored to accommodate more survivors on a larger scale, ultimately reducing healthcare costs and improving quality of life.
Professor Thrift congratulated Dr Wallace on the grant and said she looks forward to seeing the outcomes of her important work.
"Life can be very difficult with a hidden disability," she said.
"Our mission is to enhance recovery for survivors of stroke now and into the future. Research like this will help pave the way."
Three seed grants were offered in the Stroke Foundation's 2022 Research Grant Program for early- and early-mid career researchers to help address evidence and implementation gaps in stroke prevention, treatment and recovery.
The foundation has awarded almost $5.6 million to more than 200 researchers since 2008 as part of its research program.