rsz bernadette mason and marie martland cropped

Greater Manchester Allied Health Professionals relishing clinical research debut

Date: 02 January 2019

Occupational therapists from a Greater Manchester trust are helping to deliver a major national trial looking at whether extra rehabilitation for people who have had a stroke could help them to return to work sooner.

The four-year study, called RETAKE (Return to Stroke After Work), is being led by the University of Nottingham. It is assessing whether offering an early intervention, in addition to the usual NHS rehab, could be more successful and cost-effective in helping stroke survivors return to employment.  

The study has been funded by a £1.8m grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme

Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust came through a competitive process to be chosen as one of eight RETAKE pilot study sites and is the only community NHS trust in Greater Manchester to be involved. 

At Bridgewater, the study is being coordinated by Bernadette Mason and Marie Martland, Occupational Therapists with the Warrington Community Neurosciences Team, based at Orford Jubilee Park.  

They are supported locally by NIHR Clinical Research Network, Greater Manchester.  

Bernadette and Marie’s excellent work in securing Bridgewater as a pilot site, setting up the study and initiating recruitment has already seen them named as finalists in the Community Contribution category at the 2018 Greater Manchester Clinical Research Awards. 

Recruitment is ticking along nicely as the trust works towards its target of 22 participants. Consenting patients are being recruited from Warrington Hospital and Whiston Hospital, before participating in the study for up to one year via appointments with Bernadette and Marie.

RETAKE has been designed in the context that there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK every year and more than 1.2 million stroke survivors living in the UK.

Stroke is often associated with older people but around one-quarter of stroke survivors are of working age. Many want to return to work but fewer than half of those working at the time of stroke do so.

This has huge personal and economic impact. Although the severity of the stroke can impact on people’s working life and ability to do their job, other factors such as the stroke survivors’ beliefs and workplace factors can also affect the chances of successfully returning to work.

The RETAKE study is combining conventional occupational therapy with a tailored assessment of the impact of stroke on the person and their job role, matching the stroke limitations to job demands and negotiating reasonable adjustments with employers to ensure the stroke survivor can return to and remain at work.

In total, more than 750 stroke survivors will be recruited from 20 NHS centres over 20 months. Around half of the volunteers will be randomly selected to receive the new intervention, while the remaining stroke survivors will receive the standard NHS care alone.

Bernadette Mason, RETAKE Principal Investigator at Bridgewater, said: “We were excited when we first saw that RETAKE was coming up and were determined to secure Bridgewater as a study site.

“A lot of hard work has been involved in order to initiate the study, but Marie and I have received invaluable mentoring from the team at the University of Nottingham and excellent support from Rachel Hall, Bridgewater’s Head of Research, and CRN GM.  

“On a personal and team level, we are proud to be coordinating our first clinical research study and are learning an awful lot, which is fantastic for our professional development. But more importantly we are delighted to be offering stroke victims in our community the opportunity to participate in this important trial.”

Marie Martland said: “As a team which provides specialist rehabilitation for patients, RETAKE is a study closely aligned with our day-to-day work and is a project we are very passionate about.

“As occupational therapists, it has been nice to promote the fact that Allied Health Professionals like ourselves have an important role to play in clinical research and it is rewarding to know we are part of something which will hopefully drive improved outcomes for patients in the future.”

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    Occupational therapists from a Greater Manchester trust are helping to deliver a major national trial looking at whether extra rehabilitation for people who have had a stroke could help them to return to work sooner.
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