Monash awarded $5.9m for rehabilitation research projects

Two Monash University projects addressing the need to improve rehabilitation for stroke and hip fracture patients have received more than $5.9 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

L-R: Professor Anne Holland and Professor Natasha Lannin

The funding has been awarded under The Clinical Researchers initiative to support health care professionals to undertake research that will improve clinical care and practice.

PROMOTE: A Cluster-Randomised Implementation Trial, led by Monash University, received $2.99 million and will address the gap between research into stroke rehabilitation and inadequate rehabilitation implementation across Australian healthcare services.

About half of the 450,000 Australians living with stroke struggle to move their arm, yet not even half of those will receive the recommended rehabilitation to address their arm and hand weakness.

The PROMOTE trial will look to establish the effectiveness of an implementation package spanning education, skills training, on-site support and resourcing to increase adherence and provide new guidance on driving the implementation of evidence-based practice in stroke rehabilitation nationally.

Lead investigator and occupational therapist Professor Natasha Lannin, from with the Monash Central Clinical School Department of Neuroscience and Alfred Health, said: “I welcome the funding to work with clinicians to see that the Stroke Foundation clinical guideline recommendations support best practice arm and hand rehabilitation.”

“Implementation of guidelines is complex, and our work will test the use of a suite of strategies to support clinicians in stroke rehabilitation.”

Key partners on the grant include Monash University, Alfred Health, Stroke Foundation, Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Macquarie University, Flinders University, University of Newcastle, University of Melbourne, and health services across NSW, VIC and SA.

The MRFF also gave $2.93 to a project trialling intensive physiotherapy to reduce length of hospital stays and improve quality of life following a hip fracture.

Led by Professor Anne Holland from the Department of Respiratory Research at Alfred Health, HIP4Hips will assess whether physical recovery can be accelerated if intensive physiotherapy is delivered early following hip fracture.

Every year more than 22,000 Australians break their hip, with hospital costs of $579 million and requiring more than 579,000 hospital bed days. Recovery time is long, and only 24 per cent of patients regain their usual walking capacity after four months.

The HIP4Hips intervention was developed at Alfred Health by physiotherapist Dr Lara Kimmel. An initial small-group trial found patients regained their physical capacity more quickly and spent fewer days in hospital than those receiving regular physiotherapy care. The MRFF trial will recruit 620 participants from eight acute hospitals across five Australian states and run over 12 months.

Professor Holland said: “HIP4Hips was developed by physiotherapist researchers in response to an urgent need to improve outcomes for patients and the health system, so I am delighted to see this work supported by the MRFF Clinician Researchers initiative.”