Future of the Website

Yet more content has been added to the website and, while it will need several updates and tweaks, has taken shape in its current form. Recent additions are

However, suggestions and feedback regarding the site are welcome and changes yet may be made. Other content that has been discussed are:

  • Information and links on psychological reasearch and pratice for stroke for both experts and laypeople
  • Details on research and work opportunities, particularly those for PhDs
  • Information on ongoing studies

As usual contact OPSYRIS about any such issue or me directly at tom@OPSYRIS.org

Virtual Meeting Coming Soon

While sadly we will have to wait another year for the OPSYRIS meeting in Norwich, we can look ahead to the upcoming virtual meeting which should be coming very soon on Friday the 18th of September.

The next OPSYRIS meeting shall be held virtually on Friday 18 September

Many things will of course be different. Apart from being online and physically distant, the meeting will be shorter than those in the past, for half a day 9:30-12:30 (BST). Given the shorter time and online nature of the meeting, presentations shall be in a different format, those of 3-5 minute online videos. On the plus side participation will be free, see the Eventbrite site to register for the event. Also no travel needs to be arranged and it may make sharing of work presented easier. We hope to share video submissions from an online hub with details on this site soon.

The date for abstract submission is passed, but we have already received interesting submissions. Indeed, we are delighted to announce two exciting keynotes from our Australian colleagues, on topics highly relevant to current circumstances. Dr. Dana Wong ,Clinical Neuropsychologist and Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University shall present Remote Assessment and Intervention Delivery in Psychological Stroke Care while Dr. Rene Stolwyk, Clinical Neuropsychologist and Senior Lecturer, Monash University hopes to present Embracing Technology in Cognitive Rehabilitation Post-Stroke: Using Telehealth and Smartphones.

The primary focus will be on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stroke care and research, and overcoming associated challenges. On this theme we will particularly look at remote patient assessments and interventions, resources for people living with stroke, staff training and support of staff well-being. However, we do not want to overlook the valuable contributions of recently completed and ongoing projects in other areas and look forward to a wide range of relevant topics covered.

Message from the Chair of OPSYRIS Regarding COVID-19

Dr. Terry Quinn, chair of OPSYRIS, earlier in the year released this message regarding the troubling times of COVID-19. While the situation is always changing and varies from place to place, much of the message is still just as relevant today.

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed stroke care and stroke research.  My diary, which had been full of the usual mix of travel, grants, meetings is now a continuous block of clinical work – initially COVID and now stroke related again.  Its been a tough few months.

As we enter the next phase of the COVID response, and the novelty wears off, the clapping fades and the rainbows are taken down, I fear we are faced with an even tougher road to recovery.  Psychological research in stroke may be hit especially hard and I foresee something analogous to what I am seeing on the wards. The prognosis for many university departments, charity funders and specialist clinical services is, at best, uncertain. Without the necessary life-support, some of these groups may not survive.  

Now, more than ever, the stroke psychology community needs to come together.  If OPSYRIS can help, even in a small way to protect and encourage stroke psychology research, then I am keen that we do that. 

  • In uncertain times, knowledge is power.  I am hearing about lots of innovative new ways of clinical and research working – why not share these with your colleagues through OPSYRIS. 
  • Support and networking are really important at the moment. We can’t have an in-person annual meeting this year, but we shall set up a virtual meeting. 
  • The academic job market is not going to get any kinder and so I am keen that OPSYRIS continues to bolster CVs, for example with our Rising Star award – nominations please. 
  • We probably all have questionnaire fatigue, but if we don’t respond to these requests, we can’t be sure our voice will be heard – links to some relevant surveys below. 

These are my ideas for OPSYRIS in the time of COVID. I am sure you will have better ideas – let us know.

Stay safe,

Terry

Psychological Researh on the Effects of COVID-19

The psychopsychological effects of COVID-19 and lockdowns is a very important issue that is frequently discussed both in specialist and mainstream media. This earlier article discusses some of the studies in the field.

You may be interested in some of the ongoing research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic from a psychological perspective. Many of these projects are using snowball sampling, so you may wish to share via your networks:

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-33/april-2020/coronavirus-psychological-perspectives

https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/psychologists-study-mental-health-social-impacts-covid-19-coronavirus-epidemic-1.884797

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/mar/new-study-psychological-and-social-effects-covid-19

Our parent body, the World Federation for Neurorehabilitation, is planning a special COVID themed issue of the Neuropsychological Rehabilitation journal. Plans are still at an early stage, but if any OPSYRIS members would want to contribute something around stroke then let us know and we can make the necessary connections.

Resources for Stroke during the COVID-19 pandemic

The situation regarding the COVID pandemic is one which continues to keep changing with time and between countries, and even within countries. But the article below was written earlier this year with usuefull links to resources relating to stroke during the time of the pandemic.

During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which introduces so much change and uncertainty to both our personal and professional lives, we are all trying to keep a close eye on how the situation is evolving.  There is a real danger of information overload and not everything that is being circulated in the public domain is useful or even true.  With this in mind, you might find some useful resources following these links and/or might like to contribute to the information being posted. 

We would especially commend the resources collated by the British Association of Stroke Physicians (BASP) – which are relevant to all clinicians working in stroke care and not just medics.

https://basp.ac.uk/covid-19-basp-resouce-hub/

Keeping up to date with COVID is a challenge.  Yvonne Chun (previous winner of the OPSYRIS Rising Star award), Terry Quinn and others are working to keep the BASP pages regularly updated. Even if you are not a physician you may want to follow BASP on Twitter @british_stroke

Below are also some useful and aphasia-friendly resources for people living with stroke: 

https://www.stroke.org.uk/finding-support/information-coronavirus-stroke-survivors

http://speakeasy-aphasia.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/The-Coronavirus.pdf

In the constantly changing COVID landscape knowledge is power.  If you are aware of other useful resources or have developed local guidance that could be shared nationally via BASP then email Terry (terry.quinn@glasgow.ac.uk).

Other materials:

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.029701

https://eso-stroke.org/eso/stroke-care-during-covid-19-pandemic/

https://www.world-stroke.org/news-and-blog/news/words-from-the-president-of-wso-on-covid-19

https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/News/News%20-%20Files/Psychological%20needs%20of%20healthcare%20staff.pdf

https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/Policy/Policy%20-%20Files/Effective%20therapy%20via%20video%20-%20top%20tips.pdf

https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/Policy/Policy%20-%20Files/Responding%20to%20the%20coronavirus%20-%20psychological%20impact%20on%20older%20people.pdf

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScQQIapbl0Z72Vh5txQI3UGJbdUWEKh_b_d-nuxscIR2MjDKw/viewform

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/50a3e393e4b07025e1a4f0d0/t/5e8260be9a64587cfd3a9832/1585602750557/Recommendations-Guidance+for+Teleneuropsychology-COVID-19-4.pdf

Norwich Meeting Postponed

It is with regret, but with safety in mind, that the meeting at the Universty of East Anglia, Norwich, originally planned for 18th September, will not be running this year.

Norfolk, with its historic buildings, canal lined streets in the idyllic Norfolk, is the host city of the OPSYRIS 2021 meeting

However, we are delighted that the host, Dr Stephanie Rossit, welcomes us to Norwich for Autumn next year. As always, we look forward to a variety of oral and poster presentation. While it might be a year away, it might be good time to consider what work you would like to submit. It is also time to consider candidates for our rising star award.

The University of East Anglia, with its distinctdistinctive zigurat buildings and spacious grounds, where the OPSYRIS 2021 meeting shall be held

Remember that thankfully there will still be a meeting, allbeit a virtual one, planned for this year, and it is coming soon. The virtual meeting should take place on the 18th of September. Look forward to seeing many of you then.

Rising Star Dr. Yvonne Chun

I began my clinical research career with the stroke research group at the University of Edinburgh in 2014. After being awarded the Chief Scientist Office of Scotland Clinical Academic Fellowship, I conducted an observational study on the subtypes of anxiety disorders after stroke. I found that phobic disorder was the predominant anxiety subtype post-stroke. This led to the development and pilot testing of a telemedicine guided self-help cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety after stroke (TASK-CBT) in a randomised controlled trial (TASK-I RCT). I presented the results of TASK-I RCT for the first time at the OPSYRIS conference in Glasgow in October 2018. I am hoping to take my work forward and evaluate TASK-CBT in a large definitive TASK-II RCT.

I am currently completing my clinical training as a geriatrician and stroke physician. My current research interests include applying evidence-based innovative digital technology to improve stroke care, empower stroke patients, and expedite the generation of robust evidence through efficient and high-quality clinical trials. My ongoing work includes developing an automated conversational agent for stroke patients, using actigraphy as clinical outcome measure in stroke trials, and efficient digitised clinical trial design e.g. TASK-II RCT.

My publications can be found here: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/yvonne-chun(81691fe9-b14c-401c-852e-c8895461eaaa)/publications.html

Rising Star Dr. Yvonne Chun

New Content Added to Website

It’s still early days, but much new content has been added to the OPSYRIS website.

This includes some background information about OPSYRIS. Related to this are the Aims and Objectives of OPSYRIS and how to contact OPSYRIS. There is also a section for those interested in membership.

several pages on meetings have been added including articles on the 2018 meeting in Glasgow and 2019 meeting in Oxford. A highlight of the meetings is the rising star award which last year was won by Dr. Niamh Merriman.

These are still early days so expect more additions and changes soon.

Rising Star Dr Niamh Merriman

Dr Niamh Merriman was awarded the rising star award at the 2019 OPSYRIS meeting in Oxford.

She is a post-doctoral research fellow on the StrokeCog project at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). Her research focuses on the development and testing of a novel complex intervention aimed at improving outcomes for patients with post-stroke cognitive impairment (PSCI).

Currently, psychological involvement in stroke care, and cognitive rehabilitation, is severely limited in Ireland. The intervention has been developed using an evidence-based approach in accordance with the framework recommended for developing and evaluating complex interventions by the Medical Research Council (MRC). Dr Merriman has undertaken a systematic review of the evidence-base for effectiveness of non-RCT psychological interventions for PSCI, and is currently involved in a Cochrane review of RCT psychological interventions aimed at PSCI.

She has done extensive qualitative work with stroke survivors, carers, & healthcare professionals to identify stakeholder perceptions on intervention.

Currently, Dr Merriman is engaged in a series of carefully constructed feasibility studies to establish the feasibility of intervention components including recruitment, assessment, intervention content and delivery. Findings from the intervention development process have been published in BMJ Open and in Disability and Rehabilitation, and presented at the European Stroke Organisation Conference and OPSYRIS 2018. Following feasibility testing, the aim is to test a pilot intervention and ultimately conduct a definitive trial of a psychological intervention for PSCI.

Dr Merriman has extensive experience in intervention design, having previously conducted intervention studies in the area of multisensory perception and spatial navigation at Trinity College Dublin (where she was awarded her PhD in 2015) and Disney Research.

Oxford 2019

After the highly successful 2018 OPSYRIS meeting in Glasgow, the next host was the highly prestigious University of Oxford. The meeting took place in Saint Anne’s College on Friday the 4th of October.

Saint Anne’s College, Oxford was the location for the 2019 OPSYRIS meeting

A highlights of the meeting was the talk from keynote speaker Professor Sarah Pendlebury from the host University renowned for her work on clinical neuroscience, geratology and stroke prevention.

Kenote speaker, Oxford University’s Sarah Pendlebury, discusses the risk of dementia after stroke

As with previous OPSYRIS meetings, talks covered a broad range of topics. These included cognitive screening, spacial memory after stroke, prioritising actions for post stroke survivors, screening for visual perception deficits, brain network degeneration, support for carers of stroke survivors, psychoeducation, post-stroke insomnia, reading impairments, rehabilitation and befriending for people with aphasia, ocupational therapy and several others.

One of several interesting “quick-fire” talks whose brevity allow for a wide range of topics to be covered

As with oral presentations, posters covered a wide range of topics. These included rehabilitation tools and strategies for discharged stroke victims, aceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for psychological distress after stroke, feasibility and pilot testing, depression in caregivers, returning to work after stroke, spatial neglect, the effect of brain training on blood flow, associations between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and cognitive function among others. Several researchers from the host university contributed as well as those from Imperial College and King’s College, Glasgow, Cardiff, Lancaster, Manchester, Nottingham, Aga Khan (Pakistan) and East Anglia Universities.

Poster presentations provided an equally impressive range of topics

On what is becoming a highlight of OPSYRIS meetings, the rising star prize was this time nominated by OPSYRIS members. It was awarded to Dr Niamh Merriman from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). She has made important contributions on interventions improving the outcomes of patients with post stroke cognitive impairment.

Rising star Dr. Niamh Merriman receives her award fom Dr. Satu Baylan
Rising star Dr. Niamh Merriman receives her award fom Dr. Satu Baylan

Another feature making a welcome return from last year was the “how to…” sessions. This year they focussed on Patient, Carer and Public Involvement (PCPI) and prioritisation of Cochrane reviews. Following feedback from last years meeting, we also added sessions on implemented innovation in clinical service.

How to session on prioritising research giving valuable advice to researchers

After the meeting, OPSYRIS members looked forward to the next meeting due to be held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Until then, many of the speakers have thankfully shared their work and can be found on the shared drive for the Oxford 2019 OPSYRIS meeting.