Stroke therapy rehabilitation revolutionised by world-first app.

Game changer: Professor Paulette van Vliet from the University of Newcastle collaborated with fellow stroke rehabilitation experts from around the globe to develop a world-first therapy app. Picture: Supplied.

Game changer: Professor Paulette van Vliet from the University of Newcastle collaborated with fellow stroke rehabilitation experts from around the globe to develop a world-first therapy app. Picture: Supplied.

STROKE patients suffering from arm impairments can now receive the most effective treatments much faster, thanks to a world-first app developed in conjunction with the University Of Newcastle.

The ViaTherapy application has collated hundreds of scientific papers into the one place to help clinicians access the most precise, current and patient-specific advice, as quickly as possible.

Paulette van Vliet, the University of Newcastle’s professor of stroke rehabilitation, said the app was the result of a five-year collaboration with rehabilitation experts from around the globe.

It translates international stroke guidelines into suggested treatments for clinicians, tailored to individual patients.

“It’s amazing, really, because there is so much information encapsulated into the app,” she said.

“An OT or a physio normally would have to read an awful lot of material in order to find what evidence-based treatment is best for their patient.

“We don’t have the time to do that. But now, I can just log onto the app and answer a few questions about my patient that will tell me what the evidence shows is the best treatment for that person.”

At their fingertips: Clinicians can now access the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatments for their patients with the ViaTherapy app.

At their fingertips: Clinicians can now access the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatments for their patients with the ViaTherapy app.

For clinicians, the app would help them make decisions about the best evidence-based treatment for each individual patient, without having to sift through multiple research papers.

For patients, they would receive the most effective treatment, faster.

“They won’t be wasting their time on something that is unlikely to work,” Professor van Vliet said.

“We designed the app around how bad the impairment was when the person first had their stroke, and how far along after their stroke they were. These are both really important predictors of how much someone can recover or respond to treatment.”

Professor van Vliet, who works both as a professor and a clinician, was recently teaching 15 post-grad physiotherapists in Perth, who were doing a course on arm impairment from stroke.

“Within three or four minutes with the app, we had the answers to the questions as to what we should do with a patient with that level of impairment,” Professor van Vliet said.

“Instead of having to go through weeks and weeks of reading to being able to get the right information, this puts it at your fingertips, quickly.

“The end result of this is that people will improve their arm function more quickly.”

Professor van Vliet said the app was currently only useful for stroke patients with upper extremity movement loss, but the same model could soon be translated to other aspects of stroke rehab.

It is now available through the App Store.

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