The Spaulding Stroke Research and Recovery Institute
A new coordinated focus on stroke being formed in Boston holds promise to create a novel approach for the country to follow. Building on the template of the Model Systems, the Spaulding Stroke Research and Recovery Institute aims to expand clinical and translational stroke research and to develop innovative clinical programs to improve recovery and quality of life for stroke survivors. It is a collaborative effort of researchers from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the MGH Institute for Health Professions.
For Dr. Randie Black-Schaffer, Institute Director, creation of the Stroke Institute is the culmination of years of planning. “The focus in stroke care until now has been, rightly, on the acute phase of treatment and the original episode of rehabilitation care. In recognition of the many successes with those efforts, and the growing number of long-term stroke survivors (4.6 million living in the community in the United States today), many with persistent deficits and secondary effects of stroke, our goal with this Institute is to promote research and innovative clinical programming to optimize long-term recovery and quality of life for survivors,” said Dr. Black-Schaffer at the Institute’s inaugural reception. Coordination and collaboration across research groups is a central goal for Dr. Black-Schaffer and her team. From studies that address rhythm processing in aphasia and biomarkers of stroke recovery to protocols using wearable sensors to monitor, and neuromodulation to maximize, motor recovery, the Institute has assembled a rich portfolio of protocols.
Next steps will include developing recruitment and research registries and a central research subject resource office. First round Institute clinical programming, designed with research linkages includes a year-long wellness program, a summer stroke camp for survivors in collaboration with the Stroke Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and an intensive comprehensive aphasia program in collaboration with the Department of Communication Disorders at the MGH Institute for Health Professions. Within the next several years, the Institute envisions launching an annual rehabilitation re-evaluation program for stroke survivors with a longitudinal outcomes database, and an innovative robotics/virtual reality gymnasium, both in close association with research and clinical faculty.
The Institute holds monthly meetings for its research and clinical faculty to provide opportunities for interlaboratory information sharing, collaboration with clinicians, and the development of a coordinated stroke research agenda. “We also envision annual research and clinical symposia,” notes Dr. Black-Schaffer.
In closing, Dr. Black-Schaffer commented, “It is now within our grasp to advance our view of survivorship and recovery. We no longer see stroke as a sign that the end of life is near, and understand that many survivors, particularly the increasing number of ‘young stroke’ survivors, will live for decades after their stroke. It is time to pivot to a view of stroke as a long-term manageable condition. This implies developing models for the long-term management of stroke sequelae, and ways to help survivors live well for many years after stroke. Those impacted by stroke deserve no less than our full commitment to care, research and advocacy to ensure that the next generation of survivors has a better quality of life than those in the past.”
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