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Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith says new internationally-recognised research that aims to improve rehabilitation of people after they have a stroke is an important step forward.

“Around 9,000 people have a stroke each year in New Zealand. Early identification and treatment is crucial to reduce the likelihood of brain damage and lasting harm,” says Dr Coleman.

“Of these, around a third of people who experience significant disability following stroke could benefit from intensive inpatient rehabilitation.

“To help support this, the University of Auckland has created a tool that gives therapists a way to better predict at an early stage how well a stroke patient will recover the use of their hands and arms.

“Even experienced therapists struggle to predict the degree to which someone will recover use of their hands or arms post-stroke, but the PREP tool has been shown to correctly predict the outcome in 80 per cent of cases.

“Research recently released shows the tool helps therapists better target their rehabilitation, and see a patient leaving hospital for home on average, a week earlier than for patients where the tool was not used.”

“Through this union of science and healthcare we hope to make inroads into reducing the toll of these diseases on people’s lives and in reducing the burden socially and economically,” says Mr Goldsmith.

“A study of Auckland stroke patients using the PREP tool was funded by the Health Research Council and is a great example of research that is already translating into changes in care.

“I’m told researchers have already trained Auckland Hospital therapists in the use of the tool. They are also training staff at other New Zealand hospitals, as well as hospitals in the US and the UK.”

The Government's ongoing commitment to health research is demonstrated in the Budget 2016 announcement of an extra $97 million over the next four years for the Health Research Council.

Further details about this research are available on the Health Research Council of New Zealand website www.hrc.govt.nz.

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