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UC seeking stroke survivors for memory improvement study

UC seeking stroke survivors for memory improvement study

May 14, 2014

The University of Canterbury is seeking people who have had strokes to take part in a study to help improve memory in stroke patients.

Computer science and software engineering professor Tanja Mitrovic has received $830,000 of Marsden funding to develop computer-based treatment for stroke patients to improve their memory.

``We have developed training based on visualisation which will help stroke patients memorize future tasks better. There is a lot of research in rehabilitation of motor functions of stroke patients but there is very little research done to help restore people’s memory.

``We have developed a 3D virtual reality environment where stroke patients perform various actions similar to those in real-life, such as making a cup of coffee or a sandwich.

``The Government is interested in getting patients out of full-time care and into jobs, or at least to have more autonomy in their lives. We hope our work will make a real difference for those people recovering from a stroke.

``Memory failure can interfere with independent living, as it can result in someone forgetting to take medication, switch off a stove or miss a doctor’s appointment.

``The primary goal of our project is to develop an effective treatment that could be used by stroke survivors without the input and cost of a clinician. The study to help people with memory problems will be carried out over a 10 week period,’’ Professor Mitrovic says.

Stroke is the third largest killer disease in New Zealand. The issue is becoming more important in an ageing population. The UC team hopes its research will make a difference helping patients move out of 24-hour care and gain a better quality of life.
About 2500 New Zealanders suffer strokes annually and around 10 percent of stroke deaths occur in people under 65. Stroke is the major cause of serious adult disability with an estimated 60,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand. Many are disabled and need significant daily support.

If people are interested in participating in the study they can contact postgraduate student Katie Dainter on katie.dainter@pg.canterbury.ac.nz.

Ends

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