CAHPR Keele hub blog - October 2019

October saw an active month for CAHPR's Keele hub. Hub lead, Dr Sue Hunter, shares her update on Keele activities in October.


October 14th was national AHP day (, and our Keele CAHPR banner is on prominent display in the School of Allied Health Professions (SAHP) at Keele University, to raise awareness of CAHPR to all our visitors and all our students. This is a very busy time of year, with students having returned to study and new students finding their way around, and our new MSci Physiotherapy getting off the ground (a four year qualifying programme for physiotherapy), alongside ongoing REF preparations and postgraduate student supervision. However, I thoughtI would use this blog to give a brief overview of some of the exciting and rewarding research-related projects and activities that have been happening in the Keele CAHPR hub in the past week.

Last week saw the final stages of our STROKESTRA® Stroke pilot project, which has been an amazing partnership project between physiotherapists (academic, clinical academic and PGR student) from Keele University, occupational therapists from the Midlands Partnership Foundation NHS Trust Community Stroke Team, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), and the New Vic Borderlines, based at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Over five months, a group of community dwelling stroke survivors and their partners have been supported to take part in fortnightly sessions during which they participate in specially adapted musical activities enabling them to listen to, conduct, compose and perform music, all whilst encouraging rehabilitation work aimed at meeting physical, social, emotional and cognitive recovery goals. The workshops have been led by the RPO and a team of performers from the New Vic Borderlines, supported by the clinical and academic therapists. The pilot culminated in a celebratory performance of the new music and lyrics written by participants over the course of these sessions. The programme is based on the STROKESTRA® arts and health intervention developed by the RPO and Hull & East Riding Community Stroke Services (part of City Health Care Partnership CIC) which uses group creative music-making to support holistic recovery in stroke survivors and their carers. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most rewarding interdisciplinary projects I have been involved in as an AHP. We observed so many gains and benefits on so many levels for individual stroke survivors, for them and their partners, and for the therapists involved. The celebratory performance was attended by families, friends, researchers, clinical colleagues, NHS Trust Board representatives and rehabilitation managers, to name just a few. With lyrics, composed by the stroke survivor participants, that included ‘If you use it, you won’t lose it’, and ‘This is what we’re after: humour, love and laughter! Who knows what my future holds…respect me, let me reach my goals’, there was hardly a dry eye in the house! We now plan to complete an evaluation and seek further funding to sustain and build a programme of interdisciplinary research around the programme. This is a great opportunity for a range of AHPs to work together and address many and varied research questions. If you have any thoughts or a particular interest in this, please do contact me (


I was very proud to be informed  that one of our recent physiotherapy graduates, Megan Oseland, won the rapid poster presentation prize at the AGILE conference in Belfast. AGILE is “a Professional Network of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and is for therapists working with older people - whether qualified physiotherapists, assistants, students or associate members of an allied profession”. Megan’s poster was on the findings of her undergraduate research project ‘Exploring final year physiotherapy students’ perceptions of older adults following the experience of wearing an age simulation suit’. This is part of a larger study being undertaken in the SAHP at Keele, exploring the benefits of using the age simulation suit to educate health professionals and community and health workers about some of the physical challenges faced by older adults. If you are interested in this project, please contact me or Carole Watkins, Lecturer in SAHP at Keele.

I visited the British Ceramics Biennial Festival at the original Spode factory site in Stoke-on-Trent last week, to see a display of some of the porcelain work that had been created by stroke survivors from our local stroke rehabilitation unit at the Haywood Hospital in Stoke (Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust). The delicate work was a fitting tribute to a successful project, known as ‘Growing Cultures’, between BCB and the Stroke Rehabilitation Team, in which stroke survivors ‘experimented with clay and a range of adapted tools to explore different hand building and mark techniques in an upbeat and sociable session in the ward’s day room’. Whilst I was not involved in the delivery of this project, I am leading an evaluation of the project alongside the clinicians and the BCB team, and we hope that this partnership will continue to flourish and we can develop an ongoing programme for stroke survivors and survivors of traumatic brain injury as part of our arts and health research.

October saw the joint Society for Research in Rehabilitation (SRR) and British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM) meeting at Warwick University. Keele was represented by our own Professor Anand Pandyan speaking about pathophysiology of spasticity and contracture management. The variety of interesting and interdisciplinary topics (ranging from ‘Complex Rehabilitation Problems – Sleep’ to ‘Amputee Rehabilitation in the Elderly’, and including ethics, spasticity, cardiac rehabilitation, and independent living) suggest that this is a research society with a conference that would be of interest to many CAHPR members in the future. So, hub leaders please do raise awareness of this society to your members locally. For further information, please see the SRR website for more information about membership and meetings.

This morning, I was contacted by a local physiotherapist who was asking me if I was aware of any research around using a neurological ‘normal movement’ approach to correcting abnormal patterns of movement and altered (and unpleasant) somatosensation in a new (above elbow) amputees. We discussed her clinical reasoning, and we will be exploring the evidence further. If anyone out there has any experience of this clinically, or has done any research in this field, or has a particular interest in this, please do contact me ( . I am interested in finding out more about this with her.

So, that’s my blog for October 2019! I am looking forward to our next CAHPR Hub Leader’s forum on 14th November at the CSP headquarters in London, where I am hoping to hear about how CAHPR hub leaders have engaged successfully with the AHP Research Champions, and how the various hubs have used their funding for projects to support research for their members. See you in London!

Dr Sue Hunter
Keele CAHPR Hub Lead

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