Prof Leeanne Carey, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Australia
Professor Leeanne Carey is Professor of Occupational Therapy and Discipline Lead, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University and Clinical Research Lead and Head of the Neurorehabilitation and Recovery research group in the Stroke Division, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Australia. Dr Carey’s research program focuses on stroke rehabilitation and recovery: in particular how the brain adapts and how we might harness that potential in rehabilitation. She has developed a successful, neuroscience-based approach to help stroke survivors regain a sense of touch so that they can use their hands more effectively in daily activities. She uses tools such as MRI to investigate changes in the brain and how this knowledge may be used to better understand recovery and target rehabilitation most optimally to individual stroke survivors. Research includes the impact of depression and cognition on stroke recovery. An important focus has been to translate these discoveries into clinical practice and better outcomes for stroke survivors.
Capturing learning and activity based neural plasticity through rehabilitation: SENSe an exemplar
The continuum of recovery after stroke presents opportunities for targeted rehabilitation to harness and enhance mechanisms of neural plasticity for improved outcomes. One in 2 stroke survivors experience impaired body sensations after stroke, impacting ability to interact with the world around them, goal-directed use of the arm, and return to previous life activities. These challenges are often ongoing in the days, weeks, months and even years post-stroke. In response to this need we have systematically developed an approach to sensory rehabilitation that is founded on perceptual learning and neural plasticity. The approach demonstrates improvement not only in sensory capacity trained but also in transfer to untrained tasks and personally-important activities. The approach has been systematically developed from principles of learning and neuroscience and operationalised into a clinical practice protocol. A randomised control trial provides evidence for effectiveness and neuroimaging studies guide insight into underlying mechanisms. Implementation science is now being used to drive the transfer of this knowledge- and skill-based complex intervention into clinical practice settings. In this lecture I will share the journey of translating robust principles of neuroscience into an effective therapy and clinical practice; using SENSe as the exemplar.