Part of the Tauranga Hospital speech therapy team involved in one of the largest stroke speech therapy trials in Australasia. Photo/Supplied

A team at Tauranga Hospital are involved in a clinical trial which is trying to understand the best ways to help people who have suffered a stroke.

Tauranga Hospital is one of two New Zealand hospitals taking part in one of the largest Australasian clinical trials designed to improve language rehabilitation.

The Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech study seeks to better understand the best way of treating people having difficulty with speech and language (aphasia) after having a stroke.

A team of 11 speech therapists and at least 10 Bay of Plenty patients will be on the trial.

Speech-language therapist Dr Meghann Grawburg, who is leading the research at Tauranga Hospital, said the trial focuses on recruiting patients within the first 14 days following a stroke.

“We are interested to find out what kind of therapy and how much therapy is needed for best recovery in the early days after a stroke.”

Dr Grawburg said as well as language loss the selection criteria involves the patient having a certain level of alertness which in the early days after a stroke, “isn’t always common”.

Patients will be randomly assigned to one of three different speech therapy treatment programmes of various levels of intensity.

Over the course of a month, patients go through speech therapy exercises up to five hours a week.

Christchurch Hospital is also taking part in the trial along with 16 hospitals across Australia.

The Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech study trial is based at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and aims to have 246 stroke patients participate in the trial.

Stroke Facts

  • Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand (about 2500 people every year).
  • Around 10 percent of stroke deaths occur in people under 65.
  • Every day about 24 New Zealanders have a stroke.
  • High blood pressure is a major cause of strokes. One in five New Zealanders has high blood pressure and a third of these don’t know it. Reducing your blood pressure can greatly reduce stroke risk.

What are the signs of stroke?

The signs and symptoms of stroke usually come on suddenly. The type of signs experienced will depend on what area of the brain is affected.

  • Sudden weakness and/or numbness of face, arm and/or leg especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden blurred or loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying.
  • Sudden loss of balance or an unexplained fall or difficulty controlling movements,
    especially with any of the other signs.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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