Guiding the way to better stroke rehabilitation

Recovery following an injury is never easy, particularly if it is an injury to the brain caused by a stroke. Delayed intervention can lead to widespread and long-lasting problems, so it is important that best practices are in place to give stroke survivors optimal chances at regaining their strength. 

Photo: Dr Laura Jolliffe completes arm and hand exercises with stroke survivor Janice.

Peninsula Health clinical researcher, Dr Laura Jolliffe is committed to enhancing the arm and hand rehabilitative care delivered to stroke survivors.  

Research conducted in collaboration with other health services, including Alfred Health, has seen the development of a decision-making guide for stroke rehabilitation; designed to assist clinicians in making informed decisions about the type of interventions stroke survivors should receive to improve arm and hand movement.  

The study reviewed the Australian Stroke Guidelines available to clinicians and found that more detailed information from source trials was needed to help clinicians implement guideline recommendations.  

“We know that sometimes it can be tricky for clinicians to select which interventions are most appropriate to provide or offer,” says Dr Jolliffe. “The guide we developed provides clinicians with more information about ‘what, when, how and how much’ to offer and its likely impact on arm and hand recovery.”  

“By developing this tool, we hope that clinicians will become more confident in their clinical decision making.”  

In an effort to engage stroke survivors in decision-making about their rehabilitation, the guide helps inform the amount and type of rehabilitation needed to achieve set goals. 

“When stroke survivors are involved in the decision-making about their care, they are more likely to get better health outcomes,” adds Dr Jolliffe. “This guide allows for clearer communication between the therapist and the stroke survivor so that a joint decision can be made about the rehabilitation they receive.” 

“Unpacking the evidence and explaining the different interventions in this way can help stroke survivors be more informed about their choices and what their therapy looks like.” 

Peninsula Health is invested in supporting clinicians to not only build research capacity, but also to translate what is known into clinical practice. Dr Jolliffe was awarded the Best Paper Award at the national Occupational Therapist Conference in July, where she also presented the new guide to a receptive audience.  

If you would like to know more about Peninsula Health’s current research, visit