Major funding awarded to establish Australia’s first young stroke service

A collaborative $10M project led by the Florey Institute has been funded by the Medical Research Future Fund to bring faster, personalised clinical care and longer-term support for young people with stroke.

Left to right: Professor Julie Bernhardt and Professor Vincent Thijs

The five-year project, led by Professors Julie Bernhardt and Vincent Thijs, co-heads of the stroke research theme at the Florey Institute, will deliver Australia’s first young stroke service.

A quarter of all strokes in Australia are experienced by people aged between 18 and 45 years old. Young people who experience stroke are frequently underdiagnosed and underserved in the Australian healthcare system due to critical gaps in the current stroke care pathway.

Set to commence shortly with a pilot clinical hub at the Florey Institute in Melbourne and a second hub in Adelaide, the new young stroke service aims to address current gaps.

“This collaborative project will build, test and embed an innovative, digitally-enabled young stroke service to overcome geographic boundaries and better meet the long-term care need of young people who experience stroke,” said Prof Bernhardt.

“By streamlining what are currently fragmented services, we hope to connect young people who experience stroke to the personalised services they need and stay connected with them for five years to follow and support their stroke journey” she added.

Stroke is profoundly disruptive for a young person’s identity, productivity, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

“We know that a staggering 9 out of 10 young people living with stroke report unmet needs of treatment and care and only around 58% of young people return to full time work or study after stroke,” explained Prof Thijs.

“By working with young people living with stroke to co-design and deliver new evidence-based approaches to diagnose and manage stroke, we aim to implement clinical interventions that improve outcomes and help young people return to work,” said Prof Thijs.

Up to 2000 young people and their families will be part of building and testing this new service. Following the project’s success, the team hope to expand the service Australia-wide.

The project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, people living with stroke, therapists and digital health designers from across Australia.

Community and research partners including The Stroke Foundation, Curve Tomorrow, Centre for Digital Transformation of Health, University of Melbourne, Flinders University, Monash University, Latrobe University, University of Technology Sydney, Austin and Melbourne Health and the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry (AuSCR), will be integral to the project’s success.

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