Research Grant - 2012

Research Category: Stroke Award

Dr Penelope McNulty was the recipient of Brain Foundation grant funding in 2012

Stroke Award

Stroke Award
Rewiring the brain after stroke: how to promote it and measure it
Dr Penelope McNulty
Neuroscience Research Australia
Funded By Christopher Hanavan Memorial Fund, sponsored by The Caledonia Foundation and St Augustine’s College
Co-Investigators : Ms Christine Shiner


Currently the lifetime risk of stroke is 1 in 6, leading the World Health Organisation to target stroke as a critical non-communicable disease and one of the largest crises facing world health. More than 50% of stroke survivors suffer profound disability which limits their independence and reduces quality of life. With no cure for stroke, rehabilitation is the only means of promoting recovery and lessening the burden of disability for survivors and their families. Thus developing more effective rehabilitation strategies and maximising recovery potential by improving our understanding of how and why such strategies work has become an imperative. In 2009 Dr McNulty developed Wii-based Movement Therapy, a novel rehabilitation protocol that is cheap, effective, overcomes poor patient compliance, and can be implemented in the home. To optimise the impact of Wii-based Movement Therapy we need to deepen our understanding of how this rehabilitation strategy mediates improvement. Given the growing evidence for conventional post-stroke therapies, it is likely that Wii-based Movement Therapy similarly promotes recovery through brain ‘reorganisation’. In this study we will quantify brain reorganisation and identify the mechanisms that are associated with functional recovery after a brief, but intense 14-day protocol of Wii-based Movement Therapy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the current gold standard for studying brain reorganisation, however the implementation of routine scanning is limited by cost and access to services. We will investigate alternatives to MRI in this study by comparing MRI results to those from a cheaper, more accessible assessment tool, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Using MRI and TMS to uncover the mechanisms by which post-stroke rehabilitation facilitates recovery will enable us to more specifically tailor Wii-based Movement Therapy to individual patients and their deficits, optimising therapy efficacy. This presents an opportunity to significantly reduce the debilitating social and economic burden of stroke.

Progress Report

Final Report


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