Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Seven minutes in stroke - Becky Klein

1. What inspired you towards neuroscience? My first clinical research experience was with MS patients at the University of Calgary, so starting a masters in neuroscience felt like a natural progression. I have always been interested in the brain, and having a neurologist as a father didn’t hurt either!

2. Why stroke? My grandmother passed away from a stroke when I was a little girl. I knew I wanted to research something that I had a personal connection with. I am also very interested in researching neurological diseases that affect young adults. I wanted to focus on this younger population because stroke is generally considered a disease of the elderly. I was thrilled to find a project on stroke that involved working age adults, specifically those individuals working in occupations where critical attention is required such as airline pilots, railway engineers and commercial vehicle drivers.

3. What have been the highs so far? I think the most amazing part is seeing how far I have come. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was three years old. I was lucky to survive but never thought I would be able to have children. I had my first daughter as a teenager in my first year of my undergraduate degree. I didn¹t think I could continue with school, let alone graduate with first class honours and go on to do a masters in neuroscience. I love breaking the stereotype of the teen mom and showing other young moms what can be accomplished. I am extremely honoured to have a publication in the International Journal of Stroke. It is an amazing feeling seeing your hard work pay off.

4. What have been the lows? Now a mother of two little girls, the entire idea of a full eight hours of sleep a night is not my reality. Fortunately, I have a constant supply of coffee. I am also a runner so I can be hard some days to put down the running shoes and pull out the laptop. 

5. How do you balance work life with the needs of home life? Being a mother of two very active little girls is a full time job in itself. My husband is also a firefighter in Fort Macmurray and works away from home half of the time. It is definitely a balancing act trying to complete my degree, but my girls give me a reason to work hard. I love showing them that women can have children and continue to pursue a career in science. I would never be able to continue with my education if it weren¹t for my supportive parents who have encouraged me every step of the way.

6. Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them? Dr. Michael Hill is the most supportive supervisor that a graduate student could ask for. He leads by example and is the type of researcher and clinician that I aspire to be. It is very evident that he actually cares about his students and pushes them to succeed. I approached him after speaking with a pHD student who highly recommended him as a mentor. I am also fortunate to have had the support of Dr. Bill Stell during my education. He mentored me during my undergraduate degree and has been a constant support ever since. Dr. Doreen Rabi is also an important mentor to me because not only is she a well respected physician, researcher and professor, she is also a mother of two children. Her success is truly inspirational. Dr. Bijoy Menon is also an amazing mentor who has been very supportive of my project and is always around to give me input and answer my questions.

7. What are your most important collaborations and how have you built them? I am very fortunate to be able to collaborate with the stroke team at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary Alberta. I was introduced to this team of amazing physicians, researchers, students, and health care staff though my supervisor and thesis committee. I am learning from experts in a very exciting field.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New ways to submit your stroke hobby

New Ways to Submit 
your Stroke Hobby    
Send us your stroke hobby for our upcoming exhibition 
at WSC 2016. Enter here.
In addition to the existing link, you can now use 
Facebook to enter. Enter via Facebook here.

Send us your stroke hobby for our upcoming exhibition at 
WSC 2016. Enter here.
In addition to the existing link, you can now use Facebook 
to enter.  here.
Follow us on and to get the latest information about how to 
 enter and World Stroke Congress 2016.

The exhibition will include both an e-book and a video film, 
which will be launched at the World Stroke Congress, 
in Hyderabad  in October, 2016 
and will receive extensive 
exposure both at the venue and on social media. Contributors will 
receive a certificate honouring their participation in the exhibition. 
Details here.
This project provides a unique opportunity to display coping efforts 
and achievements of stroke survivors from throughout the world. 

Space is limited! Send in work today!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Seven minutes in stroke - Erin Godecke

1. What inspired you towards neuroscience?
In 1992, I was a 2nd year undergraduate student in Speech Pathology and a friend gave me the book “The man who mistook his wife for a hat” by the famous neurologist Oliver Sacks. The stories in the book and the way the human brain functions, fascinated me. In particular, the way the language and cognition could allow such an insight into how the human brain works. I’m still intrigued by language and the capacity of the brain to recover after stroke.

2. Why stroke?
Two reasons! The first: Is working with the patients I see who inspire me in their strength during recovery and being able to facilitate improved outcomes for people with communication difficulties. The second is the ability to work within a team of likeminded professionals. There is something unique about people who work in stroke and the way in which they pull together for the people they are treating. I’ve worked in many different healthcare areas and stroke care is by far the most inspiring and rewarding group to be part of.

3. What have been the highs so far?
Watching people with aphasia achieve a goal they didn’t think was possible. I get a real buzz from guiding people with aphasia to independent communication.
A second high is being awarded national funding to determine the efficacy of a therapy regimen (VERSE) that has taken our team 15 years to build.

4. What have been the lows?
The ongoing battle to access stroke research funding and not having stroke in Australia recognized as a priority area of health funding at Commonwealth and state levels. This means that I watch people with aphasia and other communication disorders receive less than optimal therapy.

5. How do you balance work life with the needs of home life?
Wow! This is a tough question! Sometimes I don’t do this as well as I’d like to. I take days off, I have a ‘therapy daschshund!’, I prioritise exercise (5 sessions/week) and I have a team of special people at home who are very supportive and understanding of the work I do. They support me to help make the stroke recovery road easier for people with communication disorders.

6. Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them?
I have two mentors – both strong females and well established researchers who I have sought out for different reasons and all who offer me something unique.

I found Prof Julie Bernhardt at regular stroke meetings and I made sure I got to know her. She inspires me with her drive, passion and approach to life as a researcher and person. She continues to guide me through complex situations in stroke research and regularly links me in with people I don’t know I need to be in touch with!

I spoke with my second mentor, Professor Beth Armstrong when she visited my work place in 2008. I told her I wanted to come and work with her and asked how I could make it happen. We worked towards getting a post doc position at the university she was working at and six years later we are doing great stroke research together. Beth helps me to develop my approach to aphasia and recovery. She challenges me to think more broadly and to apply this thinking in our research and clinical practice.

7. What are your most important collaborations and how have you built them?
My collaborative network is large and varied. I tend to seek out likeminded people and develop long term working collaborations built on mutual interest. I believe that to strengthen speech pathology services in stroke, as a profession we need to broaden our collaborations and work less in discipline specific areas and more in interdisciplinary teams.

Above all, my most important collaboration is working with clinical speech pathologists to help to bring together their research and clinical worlds. I do this through ongoing education sessions, publishing research and staying grounded by making sure I maintain a clinically active position while doing research.

I use international collaborations e.g Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists  (Prof Marian Brady, Dr Myzoon Ali and many many others) to make sure Australian aphasia and stroke services are on the world research map.

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