What is stroke?

Stroke occurs when blocked or ruptured blood vessels cut off the blood supply to the brain. Strokes can cause substantial impairment in cognition, language, sensory and motor skills, making it the leading cause of long-term disability. Approximately one-third of stroke survivors additionally develop depression, which further complicates recovery. Rehabilitation of cognition and psychological consequences of stroke are areas of unmet need. At UQCCR we actively research these areas to identify ways to improve recovery and quality of life after stroke.

What causes stroke?

There are two main types of strokes:

  • Ischemic stroke is caused by a blocked artery
  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or bursts.

In some cases, blood flow to the brain is only temporarily disrupted, known as transient ischemic attack (TIA), which typically does not cause lasting symptoms.

Many factors can increase the risk of stroke. Potentially treatable lifestyle risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity, and heavy drinking. Medical risk factors of stroke include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and family history of stroke.

What stroke research is being done at UQCCR?

Ischemic strokes can often be treated via thrombolysis, which involves the injection of medications to break up and dissolve blood clots from the blocked artery. Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding. This can be achieved via drugs used to reduce blood pressure and surgical procedures. Stroke rehabilitation can be a lengthy process and many patients experience long-term disability. At UQCCR we study ways to improve recovery after stroke, using state-of-the-art techniques including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and positron emission tomography (PET) to get a better understanding of the neuroscience of resilience to injury and functional recovery.

Research groups

Stroke and adult brain injury (O'Sullivan group)

Fast facts

  • In Australia, approximately half a million people live with the consequences of previous stroke and 1 in 4 strokes occur in someone who has had a stroke before.
  • In 2020, the economic impact of stroke in Australia was found to be $6.2 billion dollars in direct costs and an additional $26 billion in premature mortality and disability.