Stroke Association, WAG and University join to support stroke research in Wales
The Stroke Association and the Welsh Assembly Government have jointly funded a new two-year all Wales stroke research post based at Swansea University.
Dr Allison Cooper (pictured), a former Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust has been appointed to the role, with a remit to develop stroke research collaborations between clinical colleagues, academics, stroke survivors and their carers.
The Royal College of Physicians audit of stroke services in Wales in 2006 highlighted the low level of local recruitment of stroke survivors and their carers into high quality research. It has been proven that involvement in research is good for both health professionals and the people they work with.
This joint initiative will increase the involvement of stroke survivors and their carers in local, national and international stroke research projects.
Multidisciplinary research will be developed over the whole stroke care pathway and the involvement of stroke survivors in the research process will be key to Dr Cooper’s success.
She will work closely with the Stroke Research Interest Group (SRIG) in Wales, which is part of the Older People and Ageing Research and Development Network (OPAN Cymru), also based at Swansea University.
Dr Hamsaraj Shetty, Geriatrician with an interest in Stroke at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff and SRIG Chair will be the lead clinical contact for Dr Cooper.
Although Dr Cooper will be primarily based in the School of Health Science at Swansea, she has an all Wales brief and will be linking with academic colleagues in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan, and Newport Universities, and with all Welsh hospitals delivering stroke services who want to develop their own research portfolio in stroke.
Minister for Health, Edwina Hart said: "Through the development of the Clinical Research Collaboration, the Welsh Assembly Government is investing to increase both the quality and quantity of health and social care research in Wales. This stroke research post will enhance collaboration and stimulate research in this very important area.
"I am under no illusion that stroke services must improve and Dr Allison Cooper's appointment is another positive step to help develop the support that we provide to individuals – and their families – that have had a stroke.
“Despite the number of people dying from stroke continuing to fall, those people surviving stroke are left with varying degrees of disability and are in need of a great deal of support from both health and social services professionals.
"By working in partnership we will improve prevention and early identification of people at risk of developing a stroke as well as care and follow up support for people who have had a stroke."
Trish Hughes, Deputy Director of the Stroke Association in Wales, said: “We are delighted to help fund this important post along with the Welsh Assembly Government. Proper research is key to improving stroke care in Wales and Dr Cooper is an excellent appointment for the role. I’m sure she will make a real contribution to stroke research in Wales.”
OPAN Cymru co-director Professor Judith Phillips, who is Head of the University’s School of Human Sciences, said: “We are delighted that the Stroke Association and the Welsh Assembly Government have supported stroke research through Allison's appointment. As a result we look forward to increased research activity and funding coming into Wales to benefit the quality of life of older people across the country.”
The Head of the University’s School of Health Science, Professor Melanie Jasper, added: “We are fortunate indeed that Dr Cooper will be putting her energy and vision into developing stroke research collaborations here at Swansea University. This involvement will have a direct relevance to patients, the health sector and future funding in Wales.”
Prior to taking up this appointment, Dr Cooper was a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust, where she has specialised in neurological and stroke rehabilitation for more than 20 years.
Dr Cooper completed her PhD at the School of Healthcare Studies, Cardiff University in 2006. She is a core member of the Welsh Stroke Alliance (WSA), a multidisciplinary alliance of stroke professionals in Wales that serves as a reference group to the Welsh Assembly Government Stroke Services Improvement Programme Project.
She is also currently chair of the Welsh Association of Physiotherapists in Stroke, a collaboration of stroke physiotherapists in Wales with the aim to provide expert physiotherapy advice to the WSA, to share best practice and facilitate educational and research programmes related to stroke physiotherapy.
She is committed to increasing and strengthening stroke research in Wales with a particular interest in increasing the amount of stroke rehabilitation research and increasing the involvement of therapists in research. She also plans to continue to be involved in improving stroke services in Wales.