Inaugural Stroke Forum "Beginning a Dialogue..."

The Peter Couche Foundation hosted a full day Stroke Research Forum on the 3rd November 2016 which was supported by SAHMRI and the three universities (Adelaide, UniSA and Flinders).

The workshop was based on an innovative new direction in stroke research in South Australia. A role of the Peter Couche Foundation is to champion this important area and we wanted to begin a new dialogue – between people who have had a stroke and their supporters, clinicians and researchers. We aimed to identify the key issues and challenges faced by these groups and from this generate meaningful research questions that we can start to answer here in SA. We also aimed to identify people with stroke, clinicians and researchers who want to continue to be part of the research agenda in stroke in SA – as active participants in research, as advisors and as collaborators.

Eighty people from all the target groups registered to attend. Professor Alastair Burt, Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Adelaide University officially opened the proceedings.  Our host, Stephen Couche then commenced with an introduction from Peter Couche, the Founder of the Foundation. The first item was a presentation by Associate Professor Jim Jannes, Head of Neurology for the Central Area Local Health Network, who gave an inspiring summary of stroke services in South Australia and how major research advances have been incorporated into standard care in the retrieval and hyper-acute stages of the SA stroke journey.

Associate Professor Susan Hillier, clinical researcher from the University of South Australia followed, giving an overview of key research projects and teams that have contributed to the knowledge around best practice in stroke rehabilitation in SA. 

Workshop 1 was based on the question: What are the key research question/s we need to ask regarding the prevention and management of stroke? Small working groups contemplated this task and generated a list of potential research questions. We propose to consider these questions further in terms of priorities, what is doable in the short term, or the long term, and what can be achieved locally or forwarded through to peak national bodies.

Our key note speaker for the day was Professor Damien Bates from Biogen who spoke on the current trial being conducted through his organisation in the US “Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke – a clinical trial”. This generated an excellent discussion about the design of the trial and the likely findings.

Workshop 2 also posed questions to the small groups: What actions can we take to begin to find the answers to these research questions? What are the barriers we need to surmount to investigate these questions?  What can we do (individuals and groups) to further answer these questions? Some early ideas that emerged included forming a consumer advisory group, collaborating across all groups via a networking portal, volunteering,  fundraising, raising awareness, finding strength in numbers, holding more fora like this day, getting better informed and useful research, linking people in more efficient networks and so on.

A final objective for the day was to gain media coverage of the event and of stroke generally. We were delighted to have an article in the Advertiser featuring Peter Couche and Annabel Sorby-Adams, a recipient of a scholarship for stroke research from the Peter Couche Foundation.