WITH one of four people to have a stroke in their lifetime, it’s no surprise University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) biomedical scientist and PhD student Tarynn Potter from Ipswich is determined to improve the lives of stroke survivors.
Her research focuses on post-stroke fatigue, which affects almost 50 per cent of stroke patients and has no evidence-based treatment options.
“Stroke recovery treatment focuses mainly on mobility and functionality rather than obstacles like fatigue, which can have a debilitating effect on stroke survivors’ quality of life,” Mrs Potter said.
“It’s not like typical tiredness in that a nap or rest will solve it.
“Post-stroke fatigue can last up to six months if it is acute or can be chronic and last more than two years.
“It’s also associated with increased disability, decreased cognition, delays in returning to the workforce and can limit capacity to engage in rehabilitation to improve mobility.
“Because there are no consistent, evidence-based therapies available for post-stroke fatigue, survivors must often live with this fatigue with the hope that it will eventually resolve itself.
“I’m hoping the research I’m conducting leads to effective treatments for post-stroke fatigue and increases stroke survivors’ ability to engage in rehabilitation and enhance their recovery.”
Working in partnership with stroke clinicians at the Darling Downs Health Service in Toowoomba, Mrs Potter’s research project expands on preliminary work done by her supervisor Dr Prajwal Gyawali, whose research team identified a correlation between perceived stress and fatigue in stroke survivors.
“By measuring stress and fatigue levels over several time points, I will be able to determine if stress directly influences the levels of fatigue being experienced and if stress moderates the relationship between fatigue and quality of life.
“This could potentially open up new targets to reduce post-stroke fatigue by targeting stress.”
Mrs Potter is also looking into the possible causes of post-stroke fatigue.
Like many researchers, contributing to breakthrough developments in stroke research has personal meaning for Mrs Potter.
“I have had several family members with a history of stroke,” she said.
“The most polarising for me was the collapse of my uncle from a stroke at age 52 when he was on a work site,” she said.