Above: Bronwyn Simpson, University of Sydney research student
Research student Bronwyn Simpson and her supervisor Dr Anne McCluskey, from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, are seeking volunteers for a study which they say will be the first of its kind in Australia. They are putting together a training program designed to help stroke survivors regain the important skill of handwriting.
Bronwyn says she decided to create the program after finding that most materials available for handwriting difficulties were directed at children rather than adults.
“Due to arm and hand weakness, the ability to write is often impaired following a stroke,” says Bronwyn, who is a qualified occupational therapist undertaking a Master of Applied Science in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
“Stroke survivors may have difficulty controlling a pen and forming legible letters. They may not be able to write quickly or move their arm freely across a page.”
“Handwriting is used to make notes and lists and is important for paid work. Being able to create a recognisable signature is also legally important, and a person’s handwriting style is an integral part of their personality,” she says.
The researchers say that, despite the frequency of handwriting loss and the frustration it causes, there is little research into the most effective way to retrain handwriting with adults who have had a stroke.
This study will test the feasibility of a four-week program conducted in participants’ homes, which will involve home practice tasks and coaching from an occupational therapist.
To be eligible for the study, people with stroke need to:
· Be aged 18 years or older
· Be living in the Sydney metropolitan area
· Have had a stroke at least three months previously
· Have difficulties with handwriting
· Be able to follow instructions and complete a home program independently or with the support of a family member
· Be able to speak, write and read in English
· Cease other therapy related to handwriting or similar tasks during the study and follow-up period (two months)
Participants will be asked to complete one hour of handwriting practice, five times per week for four weeks. Two sessions each week will be supervised by an occupational therapist.
To enquire about participating in the study, please contact:
Bronwyn Simpson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone:0430 125 223, or
Dr Annie McCluskey, email@example.com or 02- 9351 9834.