Life After Stroke: A Sensory Health Initiative (2022-2023)


Each year more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke, and more than 80% survive. Older people have more strokes; however, in the past decade, there has been a 44% increase in the incidence of stroke in younger adults due to risk factors such as obesity and high cholesterol. 

There is a growing need to develop diverse person-centered interventions that support the recovery of adults after a stroke, including their participation in community, society and meaningful activities of daily living. 

It is common for people recovering from a stroke to experience major challenges in everyday functioning due to sensory impairments that can impact multiple body systems, such as vision, touch, proprioception and hearing. Although research has identified sensory deficits experienced by stroke patients, there is limited research exploring how these deficits impact their participation in meaningful activities of daily living. 

There is a critical need to understand how adults experience their sensory deficits including the impact on their access to resources, community participation, social integration, mental health and quality of life. This knowledge is needed in order to develop interventions that address the unique sensory deficits experienced by each person in the context of their daily living.

Project Description

This project team will partner with expert stakeholders, including adults post-stroke, caregivers, clinicians and researchers to address two related aims:

  1. Identify the critical sensory health needs of adults post-stroke and specific knowledge gaps. For priority topics of interest, team members will perform and publish scoping reviews of the literature and develop and disseminate resources to the public. 
  2. Identify research questions and study protocols to explore the impact of the identified sensory health needs on the recovery and participation in meaningful activities of daily living. The team will develop a grant proposal to fund the study protocols. 

The long-term goal is to develop interventions and materials that support and ultimately improve the sensory health of stroke survivors.

Anticipated Outputs

Literature reviews and journal manuscripts; media products (short didactic trainings for stakeholders and community partners); team website; research questions and related study protocols; conference presentations; grant proposal

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will be comprised of 2-3 graduate students and 6 undergraduate students. The success of this project hinges on forming expert working groups comprised of stakeholders and students, thus team leaders aim to build a team representing different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and interests. Students from all disciplines/majors are welcome to apply. Students from neurology/neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, computer science and the humanities may find this project most consistent with their interests. Graduate students from occupational therapy programs at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill are also encouraged to apply.

Student team members will help form and enact authentic community partnerships to generate meaningful real-world changes. They will participate in working groups and engage with expert stakeholders to share their expertise and understand the processes of facilitating communication among diverse experts. Students will provide their input regarding the research questions and study protocols that emerge from their participation in the working groups. They will also have opportunities to participate in scoping reviews, draft manuscripts and develop products for dissemination (e.g., web-based resources, videos, podcasts). Students will be invited to participate in activities beyond the project period (e.g., drafting a grant proposal, conducting research).

In Fall 2022, the team will meet on Tuesdays from 2:00-3:30 p.m.

A graduate student will be selected to serve as project manager.


  • Fall 2022: Identify and recruit participants for working groups; participate in weekly meetings; participate in all aspects of workgroups; take part in scoping review(s)
  • Spring 2023: Continue scoping review(s); develop website and media content; participate in second round of working groups
  • Summer 2023 (optional): Produce and post media; develop next grant proposal; develop research protocols


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available


Image: Physical therapy, by United States Forces Iraq, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Health worker and patient.

Team Leaders

  • Antoine Bailliard, School of Medicine-Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Kimberly Hreha, School of Medicine-Orthopaedic Surgery

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Jessica West, School of Medicine-Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Kesler Foundation
  • American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • American Occupational Therapy Association - Therapist Network
  • The Sense Network
  • The Association for Vision Research and Ophthalmology
  • Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • UNC Hospitals