AVERT Early Rehabilitation Research Group

Our group provides vital new research to improve stroke rehabilitation outcomes and practice worldwide. To impact the global burden of disability after stroke, we focus our efforts on:

Research interests

  • Stroke
  • Early rehabilitation
  • Hospital (building) and service redesign
  • Young stroke

  • Clinical trials
  • Co-design
  • Living lab methods

About our research

Through interdisciplinary and co-designed research with survivors of stroke, our greatest strength lies in collaborating to achieve what cannot be achieved alone. After 6 years of work to understand the unmet needs and challenges of young stroke survivors, we spearhead the $10 million Young Stroke Service redesign project, which will create Australia’s first dedicated service for young people aged 18-45.

We are delighted to be part of the NHMRC funded stroke trials Centre of Research Excellence, being led by Professor Richard Lindley at the University of Sydney. The team hope to continue to develop work produced by a CRE in rehabilitation and brain recovery, which was led by the Florey from 2015–2020, as well as building several important clinical trials initiatives. This CRE will continue to nurture the next generation of leaders in stroke research.

Identifying the most effective mobility training program early after stroke

A major project of our current research program is the AVERT DOSE trial, an international randomised trial recruiting patients in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Ireland, India and Brazil. Led by Professor Julie Bernhardt, this trial aims to identify the most effective mobility training program early after stroke. As a part of this trial, collaborators Professor Vincent Thijs and Dr Kate Hayward aim to better understand the contribution of biology (genetics and brain markers) to stroke recovery.

NOVELL: Redesigning health architecture in stroke rehabilitation

Our team is also working on how the hospital environment can be optimised to accelerate neurological recovery and create the ideal rehabilitation service. Central to this is the Neuroscience Optimised Virtual Living Lab (NOVELL), and interdisciplinary Living Lab that includes industry, researchers, clinicians, policy makers, and people with lived experience of stroke, to reimaging and then redesign hospital environment and services. NOVELL Redesign is an award-winning project (European Health Design Conference 2022; Winner Design Research Project) that will complete in 2023. Virtual reality forms an important part of evaluation and exhibition of these unique spaces.

Transforming stroke research and practice in Australia

Professor Julie Bernhardt also leads a global collaboration of research and clinical experts, funders and consumers called the International Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Alliance (ISRRA). The natural extension of work initiated during the NHMRC-funded the Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Stroke Rehabilitation and Brain Recovery to build global recommendation for research in this field (see the Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Roundtable). The vision of this new alliance is ‘a world where global collaboration brings major breakthroughs for people living with stroke’.

“Global collaboration has the potential to deliver advances in science and care for people with stroke that cannot be done alone. Our group excels at building interdisciplinary collaborations with real impact.”

Research team

Research team head

Team members

Research fellows

Research and technical staff

  • Ms Oriana Borschmann
  • Ms Fiona Ellery
  • Ms Maree Honey
  • Ms Elise Crowley
  • Ms Elise Honey

Selected publications

  • Bernhardt J, et al on behalf of the AVERT trial collaboration, ‘Efficacy and safety of very early mobilisation after stroke (AVERT): a randomised controlled trial’, The Lancet 2015;386(9988):46-55, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60690-0
  • Bernhardt J, Lipson-Smith R, Davis A, White M, Zeeman H, Pitt N, Crotty M, Churilov L and Elf M on behalf of the NOVELL Redesign Collaboration (2022) ‘Why hospital design matters: A narrative review of built environments research relevant to stroke care’, International Journal of Stroke, 17(4):370-377
  • Keating J, Borschmann K, Johns H, Churilov L and Bernhardt J (2021), ‘Young stroke survivors’ preferred methods of meeting their unique needs. Shaping better care’, Neurology, 96:e1701-e1710, doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000011647
  • Shipley J, Luker J, Thijs V and Bernhardt J (2020), ‘How can stroke care be improved for younger service users? A qualitative study on the unmet needs of younger adults in inpatient and outpatient stroke care in Australia’, Disability and Rehabilitation, 42(12): 1697-1704, doi:10.1080/09638288.2018.1534278

Contact us

AVERT DOSE: [email protected]

AVERT dataset enquiry: [email protected]

ISRRA: [email protected]