Until recently, it has been technically difficult to biologically monitor levels of psychological stress in patients over extended time periods. One elegant solution to this sampling problem has been the development of an approach to monitor levels of cortisol, the principle stress hormone that accumulates in the hair over time. We have now established this technology at HMRI and in this study we propose to evaluate stress loads in patients both in the acute phase and community. This will represent the first study on in kind in Australia. If this pilot trial is successful it will provide a platform for a future large-scale community focused monitoring and intervention study.
Patients recovering from stroke often report high and unremitting levels of psychological stress. Clinically, the presence of stress throughout the recovery process is highly significant, as stress hormones, most notably cortisol, are known to impair multiple aspects of brain repair including cortical remodelling, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis.