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Stroke Survivors in Worcester Sought for Pioneering Research Project

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Volunteers from Worcester are invited to take part in a research project looking at how a metronome can be used to aid stroke survivors’ walking.

Following a stroke, many stroke survivors experience paralysis or difficulties with movement or walking. Consequently, avoiding objects (such as tables and chairs) can be difficult. A collaborative project between the University of Worcester and the University of Birmingham, funded by The Stroke Association, is investigating whether a metronome will help stroke survivors to improve their walking and ability to avoid obstructions.

The assessment will involve a visit to the Motion & Performance Centre at the University of Worcester’s St John’s campus. A metronome will be used, along with motion analysis equipment, to analyse walking patterns and how timing corrections are achieved.

Dr Rachel Wright, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, said: “Using a metronome allows us to investigate walking adjustments, such as those that might be used to avoid obstacles, in a safe and controlled manner. By having a better understanding of how people with one-sided muscle weakness after a stroke make these adjustments, we can provide additional useful information for walking rehabilitation.”

According to the Department of Health, every year approximately 110,000 people in England have a stroke, which is the most common cause of severe adult disability. The ability to walk after a stroke is a high priority for the majority of people. Walking around the community involves negotiating curbs, slopes, ramps, other pedestrians and uneven surfaces.

Dr Wright said: “The slight adjustments needed for community walking involve subtle changes in step length and timing. It is these adjustments that may be trickier for a stroke survivor to complete, placing them at an increased risk of having a fall.”

Heather Webber, Head of Operations for The Stroke Association in the West Midlands, said: “Stroke survivors from Worcester will have a great opportunity to participate in this research supported by leaders in the stroke research community. We are committed to the improvement of life after stroke, which is why we are delighted to fund research which we hope increases further our knowledge of the best treatment for stroke.”

If you live in the Worcester area, and have one-sided muscle weakness as a result of a stroke but regularly walk without a walking stick please contact Rachel Wright on email: r.wright.1@bham.ac.uk or telephone 07528732764 for further details about taking part in the study.