Local physiotherapist leads the way in dizziness and stroke research

Research by a specialist physiotherapist is helping identify stroke in patients who report feelings of dizziness.

Dawn Lamb, Advanced Specialist Physiotherapist in Acute Stroke and Neuro-Rehab at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, (NCUH) has a special interest in patients with dizziness and has observed how complicated this symptom is to diagnose.

She has developed a flowchart to help staff to identify when a person who has symptoms of dizziness is actually suffering from a stroke.

Dawn said: “Dizziness is common and can be due to various reasons including a problem in the ear. However it can also be caused by a blockage in blood supply at the back of the brain due to a stroke. Strokes need urgent treatment but can be hard to spot.”

Dawn looked into what research had been done on dizziness in stroke and found a number of useful physical tests that can help diagnose the problem however this remains complicated. Working alongside Stroke Consultant Dr Paul Davies, she developed an easy to use flow-chart to make it clearer for doctors assessing dizzy patients.

Dawn added: “This is the first step in the process of trying to improve how we recognise stroke in dizzy patients. Coming up with the flow-chart by looking at what research has been done before has been very enjoyable and we have received excellent feedback from doctors in this field who recognise a need for this type of flow-chart. The next step is to see if the flow-chart works and we hope to trial the use of this in A&E in the future.”

Dawn recently had her research into the complex area of dizziness and stroke published and has presented at the European Stroke Organisation Congress in Milan.

Dawn received a Wellcome Trust Broadening Horizons Award to fund her attendance at the conference in Millan and has recently completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research at Newcastle University.  She hopes to continue her studies while working as a physiotherapist at NCUH by gaining a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) fellowship in the future.