News

Practice and teamwork improve rehabilitation outcomes at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital


10 July 2012

A multidisciplinary collaboration of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, clinical researchers and academics have successfully concluded a three year project aimed at improving the outcomes of stroke and rehabilitation patients. The collaboration also aims to build research capacity in allied health.

Funded by a grant from the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, staff from Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital teamed up with researchers from the University of Sydney and the George Institute to implement this series of studies. During the three years, they gained a clearer understanding of the best ways to optimise rehabilitation interventions and encourage the dissemination and implementation of these findings.

L to R: Ingham Institute Research Director Professor Michael Barton with project team Angela Vratsistas, Dr Annie McCluskey, Karl Schurr, Simone Dorsch, Brad Lloyd and Professor Leanne Togher. (Assoc/Prof Cathie Sherrington absent)
L to R: Ingham Institute Research Director Professor Michael Barton with project team Angela Vratsistas, Dr Annie McCluskey, Karl Schurr, Simone Dorsch, Brad Lloyd and Professor Leanne Togher. (Assoc/Prof Cathie Sherrington absent)

A key aim was to explore how best-practice rehabilitation could be achieved within the constraints of staff levels and therapy time.

"We know that multi-disciplinary rehabilitation can improve patient outcomes, and which rehabilitation therapies can make a difference. One thing that we don't know is how to best support and teach health professionals to deliver these therapies routinely to relevant patients," says Dr Annie McCluskey from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences.

"The collaboration allowed us to explore the implementation of evidence and to trial some new therapies, through multiple studies on topics ranging from exercise intervention to the use of videogames to enhance patient practice."

The group has been amazed by the level of knowledge sharing and research output resulting from the partnership, with over 13 studies completed and five already published in leading journals.

"One of our key aims was also to encourage clinicians at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital to pursue research relevant to their own work," says Dr McCluskey.

This aim has also been achieved, with three members of staff choosing to pursue higher degree research under the supervision of researchers at the University of Sydney and the George Institute.

One example is a project by Kate Vickers, a speech pathologist, who is investigating the relationship between intensive swallowing practice and the ability to eat and drink following stroke. Kate has been using novel treatment methods, including an interactive swallowing group and encouraging the person and their family to count how much practice they are doing. Preliminary results suggest that increased practice can in many cases lead to restoration of eating and drinking skills.

For more information on the project contact:

Dr Annie McCluskey, The University of Sydney annie.mccluskey@sydney.edu.au Professor Leanne Togher, The University of Sydney Leanne.togher@sydney.edu.au Associate Professor Cathie Sherrington, The George Institute csherrington@georgeinstitute.org.au
Karl Schurr,Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital / Ingham Institute karl.schurr@sswahs.nsw.gov.au