Translating evidence for the rehabilitation of post-stroke sensory loss: perspectives of occupational therapists and physiotherapists

Ms Liana Cahill1,2,3, Ms  Yvonne  Mak-Yuen1,2, Dr Annie McCluskey4,5, Ms Cheryl Neilson1, Dr  Denise O’Connor6,7, A/Prof Natasha Lannin1,8, Prof  Leeanne  Carey1,2

1La Trobe University , Melbourne, Australia, 2The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne , Australia , 3Australian Catholic University, Melbourne , Australia, 4The University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia , 5The StrokeEd Collaboration , Sydney, Australia , 6Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 7Australasian Satellite of Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group, Melbourne, Australia, 8Alfred Health , Melbourne , Australia


To determine the barriers and enablers for translation of evidence-based practice for rehabilitation of upper limb sensory loss with stroke survivors.

A written questionnaire (30 items) and 1-hour focus group interview were conducted with occupational therapists and physiotherapists working with stroke survivors at 8 health organisations in Victoria and NSW.  Quantitative data were analysed in relation to frequency, central tendency and variance.  Qualitative data were analysed inductively, then further coded to domains of the Theoretical Domains Framework.

Eighty therapists (n=87, 78.7% occupational therapists and 21.3% physiotherapists) completed questionnaires and participated in focus groups.  Therapist self-reported skill level in treating sensory loss (rated 0-10 via visual analogue scale) was low across sites (mean 3.82, SD 2.2).  Most therapists (93.7%) agreed there was a need to change practice, and most (93.7%) reported barriers to change; barriers included lack of knowledge, skills and resources in addition to system pressures.

Significance of findings to allied health:
Allied health perspectives provide vital insights regarding practice and context to support behaviour change.  Identified barriers and enablers are relevant for areas of allied health outside of stroke rehabilitation.


Liana Cahill is an occupational therapist, researcher and lecturer.  She has practiced in neurological rehabilitation for over a decade in Australia, the United Kingdom and South Africa.  She holds a Masters of Public Health and is currently completing her PhD in the area of evidence translation and upper limb stroke rehabilitation.  Her research base is at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and La Trobe University and she lectures in the School of Allied Health at Australian Catholic University.