Sunnybrook cashes in on research grant

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is part of a virtual medical organization that recently received the largest grant ever given for stroke rehabilitation research in Canada.

The federal government has given $15 million to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for Stroke Recovery to help fund research at the Sunnybrook and Baycrest centres in Toronto, and at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Sandra Black, co-director and medical director for the regional stroke centre for the north and east GTA, says she is thrilled by the historic donation.

“We’re very pleased it’s finally getting some attention,” she said. “Sunnybrook is particularly involved in designing new and better ways to physically rehabilitate people both from the point of view of motor recovery and walking.”

The centre works on developing new methods of brain repair following a stroke, as well as on rehabilitating patients and re-integrating them back into daily life. Its research combines molecular biology, laboratory models and clinical studies.

Black says the grant will go towards research that will hopefully have an international impact on stroke rehabilitation and recovery.

“It’s giving us a huge shot in the arm,” she said. “It allows us to hire some more technical personnel — to make sure we’ve got the most up-to-date equipment — (and) it allows us to refurbish space in Sunnybrook.”

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, in Canada someone either dies or is disabled by a stroke every 10 minutes.

Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the country, and the top cause of serious longterm adult disability.