Stroke research brings academic and clinical colleagues together

06 February 2019

University of Birmingham PhD student and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) honorary research fellow, Rosanna Laverick, is currently working closely with UHB’s stroke research nurses Michelle Bates and Katherine Ahlquist.

Rosanna gained her Masters degree in neuropsychology and rehabilitation from the University of Birmingham and continued her working in the same department.

Use of the MRI and imaging is a crucial part of the research Rosanna is doing with patients who have suffered an ischaemic stroke (where a blood vessel becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot and a portion of the brain becomes deprived of oxygen and stops functioning), but almost more crucial, is her working relationship with the stroke research team at UHB.

Working alongside research nurses Michelle Bates and Katherine Ahlquist, Rosanna visits the stroke wards several times a week and with the help of her NHS colleagues identifies patients who may be suitable to take part in her research into cognitive (brain) function following a stroke.

Rosanna and the team speak to patients about whether they would like to take part in the research, which involves an in-depth questionnaire to assess the patient’s initial cognitive level, including tests of speech, language and memory.

An MRI is then taken within three months at the University centre, followed up by another 12 months later. Rosanna explained: “We are particularly interested in the effect of a stroke on the hippocampus, how this is changed and then what link there may be with the development of dementia, if any.”

Since starting her research two years ago, Rosanna and the team have recruited about 60 patients at UHB to take part and she hopes to be able to produce some results from the vast amount of  work within a couple of months. She said: “We hope to be able to show that closer focus on brain function after a stroke could help patients in the long run. Sometimes cognitive impairments can be discreet and may be missed, but we hope this will show it should be more closely investigated.”

Rosanna’s research is being funded by the Stroke Association From the research nurses point of view, working closely with Rosanna has enhanced their work and profile as researchers too, building on their involvement with the national and regional research network and their own particular research nursing skills.