One of the privileges of this role is that I’m able to attend research related events across the partnership. It provides me with numerous opportunities to return to the research coalface and meet with people who get to do what they are clearly extremely passionate about!
Wednesday of this week was World Stroke Day and this was no exception. The event took place at Salford Royal and was led by Professor Pippa Tyrrell (Stroke Physician Extraordinaire). The day celebrated how stroke research has progressed over the last twenty or so years, and also honored the amazing patients and their carers who give their time so generously to help us understand this life-changing condition.
During the run up to the official start of the day, I was invited to meet the researchers who were presenting posters on their research. I was amazed at the breadth of research from basic science all the way through to clinical studies and drug trials. I loved this. It took me back to my PhD days, as my research explored using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to monitor the temporal evolution of cerebral ischaemia and the effects that some potential neuroprotective agents had on reducing the MR visible pathology. As you can imagine, I was particularly interested in the research that involved any imaging whatsoever! I was also impressed by the multidisciplinary approach to the stroke research programme, for example from the University’s School of Psychological Sciences and the Greater Manchester CLAHRC.
The day commenced with an introduction from Sir David Dalton, who described how the three stroke centres of Greater Manchester are working towards providing high quality stroke care for their patients. What struck me most from this presentation was that despite achieving some impressive results in terms of the level of care provided, they continue to push themselves to deliver better and better care.
Next to speak was Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell who without any slides (very impressive!) outlined the research she and her colleagues (scientists and clinicians alike) have been doing to develop a putative treatment in the form of Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist (IL-1RA). Professor Rothwell described two clinical trials that are examining the effects of this compound, in both sub arachnoid haemorrhage and stroke patients, in reducing inflammatory responses in the brain.
Dr Jane Malloy spoke about the comprehensive stroke centre for Greater Manchester and how they intend to extend the facilities to treat more stroke patients on a 24/7/365 basis. It was clear from her presentation just how committed and driven she was to improve the lives of those who are touched by stroke – her patients and their carers.
We were then introduced to a patient who had survived stroke. She told a truly inspirational story of her journey from initial onset of symptoms through to her rehabilitation and recovery. Her story was moving yet at the same time uplifting as it clearly demonstrated that there was life after stroke.
Similarly, we were introduced to a carer who told a very moving story of caring for her husband who had suffered a stroke as well as being a super mum to her young family. If I was ever in doubt as to how important research is and those that spend their lives working to understand the mechanisms of diseases, this story demonstrated it perfectly. I did have a lump in my throat. What a brave and inspirational person this lady is.
Finally, the audience was treated to a musical extravaganza from the local stroke choir made up from stroke survivors, carers, nurses and other healthcare professionals as the perfect end to a perfect day, which I know raised lots of awareness around this condition. I really hope that I’m invited to World Stroke Day 2015.