Re-imagining Stroke Rehabilitation

By University of South Australia

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**Close of active campaigning** 21/04/2017

The official campaign has now ended but we are still accepting donations through this website while we finalise a number of other fundraising initiatives for this project and continue to sell Body Image workshop tickets.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign by donating and spreading the word. Each dollar raised allows us to help even more stroke survivors.

**Tickets now available to Body Image workshop**

Join Associate Professor Susan Hillier for a special workshop for anyone interested in body image – clinicians, dancers, actors, yoga teachers, students, or individuals. There are only 20 tickets available at the earlybird price of $165 (includes GST).

Pablo Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror, 1932.

Body Image: the basis of who we are and how we act.

10am-4:30pm, Sunday 18th June

Held at an inner suburbs Adelaide location.

We create an internal sense of self in relation to our body schema and body image that is multifaceted and dynamic. In this workshop we will explore ways of understanding and influencing this complex neuro-matrix. We will explore how our body image links inextricably with our sense of ownership and agency – how we self en-act in the world. Learning will be through brief theoretical discussions, exploration and self-contemplation. Participants will gain knowledge of the neuroscience behind the processes of body image to help explain these phenomena with themselves, their clients (where these processes can become disrupted or distorted), or with students. Participants will also experience ways we can explicitly sculpt these processes using principles of neuroplasticity and multimodal sensory feedback.

**NEWSFLASH - 4/4/17**

"One day I want to be able to style my daughter's hair again"

This is why we're doing what we are doing!

Stroke survivor Saran Chamberlain was only 39 when she experienced a stroke. She has shared her story in the hope of encouraging everyone to support this campaign.

Saran says that since her stroke her left arm has felt like one of those fabric door stops hanging from around her neck but our new technology gives her renewed determination for her rehabilitation.

The sensations that I feel in the paralysed sections of my body are simply amazing when I compare my progress with other forms of therapy.

It is like suddenly my brain remembers what is required of it and I feel a warmth and tingling spread through parts of my left side as I try to move it to copy the image.”

To read more about Saran’s story please click here. (Please note this will redirect you to another page - simply hit the 'back' button on your browser to return).

**Paypal restored - 4/4/17**

We have resolved the teething issue with our new Paypal account and it should now be working smoothly. Please let us know at [email protected] if you have any further trouble donating via this method.

**Working to resolve Paypal issue - 29/03/17**

It seems we have an issue with Paypal payments failing and so we have switched off Paypal until the Chuffed team can investigate and rectify the issue. We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience.

Please don't let this deter you! We hope to have Paypal back up and running soon and you can still donate securely in the meantime using a credit card.

We're helping stroke survivors regain movement and independence.

I am Associate Professor Susan Hillier, Dean of Research at the University of South Australia, and I lead a team of researchers exploring neurological impairment.

We have developed an exciting and innovative new approach to stroke rehabilitation that utilises interactive video technology used by the Australian Dance Theatre. Our initial trials have shown very positive results and have been the subject of an ABC report.

We are seeking funds to be able to expand on this research and help many more stroke survivors.

Stroke affects one in six Australians and is the nation's leading cause of disability.

We all know someone who has been affected by stroke. For those who survive, the stroke can cause permanent disability. Imagine suddenly losing control of part of your body. All of a sudden the smallest activity, like walking to the fridge or brushing your hair becomes a challenge.

This is the reality that stroke survivors must adjust to in the months and years following an attack. Skills they learnt as a child such as walking or speech may need to be learnt all over again.

We are working to improve outcomes for these people who often face years of pain and distress, but we need your help.

Rehabilitation is vital to maximise their return to independence in daily life, however current methods are not always sufficiently effective or even available.

With advances in our understanding of how the brain works, there has been progress in rehabilitation theories. For example, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change by creating new neural pathways – the forging of communication links between different brain cells.

It allows changes to take place within the brain that translate as learning things such as a new language or how to walk again after trauma. Regaining function through these mechanisms of changing the brain is particularly important for stroke survivors.

Worryingly, data shows that not every stroke survivor receives an adequate amount of ongoing rehabilitation, or it is not sufficiently engaging to stimulate improvement, and take advantage of the brain’s capacity to adapt and recover after damage.

My research is showing that movement can be regained through visual feedback.

Garry Stewart, the Artistic Director of the Australian Dance Theatre approached us with the idea of using technology from their critically acclaimed dance performance Proximity in physical rehabilitation - and we immediately saw the possibilities for stroke survivors.

This new system - Proximity:Clinical - allows stroke survivors to use cutting edge technologies that provide valuable visual feedback to the brain and potentially speed up the recovery process.

The software provides participants with immediate and accurate feedback on their movements in the form of a full-size, visual display. The images can be frozen or webbed with a matrix so the participant can interact with the display to see how they need to improve certain movements.

Traditional rehabilitation is very focused on the ‘output’ of the muscular activity, whereas our new system concentrates on the ‘input’ - i.e. the sensory feedback. We think this focus on quality improvement, rather than only quantity improvement, could be the missing component in rehabilitation.

Up until recently we thought that visual feedback during rehabilitation was not a helpful tool. But the data we have seen from initial trials is very positive and it is making us reassess decades of work.

Providing visual feedback to participants might provide a firmer possibility of positive neuroplastic changes.

Stroke survivors who have trialled the new system have been excited by their experience.

Initial testing with stroke survivors has shown very positive results.

As well as regaining movement, they have described a greater understanding of what is happening with their body and that they find the process fun.

We have even had unexpected reports of significant decreases in chronic pain, which I am very excited about.

We need to test Proximity:Clinical more rigorously and undertake a controlled trial with a larger group of stroke survivors.

How your donation will help stroke survivors:

Clinical trials are expensive but crucial to improving outcomes. Funds raised through this appeal will allow us to:

  • Promote the trial to stroke survivors and recruit more participants;
  • Hire therapists to conduct participant sessions, control sessions and assessments;
  • Transport support for stroke participants to attend each session and assessment.

Your donation will allow us help more stroke survivors. As well as helping more people, we have the potential to significantly change the way therapists provide rehabilitation in the future.

Your dollar will go further! The University of South Australia has committed to boosting all funds raised by an extra 20% - but only if we reach our target. So please get behind this campaign and share with your friends.

Who we are

Associate Professor Susan Hillier, Dean of Research at University of South Australia, is an expert in the field of neuroscience and rehabilitation. She has worked extensively in researching stroke, rehabilitation and neuroplasticity and maintains a small clinic at the University for stroke survivors.

The University of South Australia is a deductable gift recipient. All donations over $2 are tax deductible depending on your personal circumstances.

To find out more about UniSA's crowdfunding campaign, visit: and to join the conversation use #unisacrowdfunding.

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University of South Australia