The UK’s leading stroke charity has warned that research faces a long-term threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, almost three quarters of stroke research projects funded by the Stroke Association have been suspended.
The charity also anticipates a shortfall of £1.5million in its funding programme this year to resume current research and support new projects.
Research director at the Stroke Association, Dr Rubina Ahmed, says: “Our research has been at the centre of major breakthroughs that have saved lives and sparked innovation in stroke care and treatment.
“This has seen many patients spared the most devastating effects of stroke. Patients who otherwise could have lost the ability to walk and talk still can.”
“But a lack of funding for research is now a ticking-time bomb,” she continues.
“If we don’t act now the coronavirus pandemic could set back stroke research for years to come.
“The research community will struggle to get projects back up and running, but it’s vital for every stroke survivor and their loved ones that we do.”
If this research can’t resume the knock-on effect will be catastrophic for access to new, life-changing treatments that allow people to rebuild their lives after stroke.
The news comes at the same as reports of a link between stroke and coronavirus which places greater urgency on research.
Stroke happens every five minutes in the UK and is a leading cause of adult disability, though research remains underfunded in comparison to other conditions.
In 2016, the Stroke Association revealed that £48 is spent on stroke research per patient compared to £241 on cancer research.
This has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, the impact it has had on charity’s fundraising capabilities and researchers’ abilities to continue their work.
Over the past 30 years the Stroke Association has played a crucial role in supporting stroke research in the UK, investing over £2million into stroke prevention, treatment and rehabilitation last year.
The coronavirus pandemic will has had a broader impact on stroke researchers: One in five researchers will need more funding; two thirds will need to make changes to their studies for their projects to continue; one in five research products had team members deployed to front line work with the NHS.
Dr Lucy Dipper is in the final stages of testing a new treatment for stroke survivors with communications difficulties at City University London, she says: “We couldn’t continue testing our new treatment face-to-face. But we couldn’t just stop.
“The project team decided to move the treatment online. This hugely disrupted our plans and we needed extra funding to extend the time we have to involve more people in a different way than we had planned.”
Without support from the charity this research couldn’t have continued or adapted during the pandemic.
The Stroke Association fund critical research, provide special support and campaign to ensure people affected by stroke get the care and support they need. To find out more click here.