Montreal, QC / Canada skyline
In 2020, Professor Damian Bailey and Benjamin Stacey of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory at the University of South Wales were awarded funding from the Welsh Government to facilitate an international collaboration with world-leading experts from McGill University (Québec), Université Laval (Québec) and Cardiff Metropolitan University. Their project HIITing the brain with exercise; a randomised control trial to facilitate recovery in stroke patients aims to utilise exercise (in particular high-intensity interval training: HIIT) as an interventional tool to promote superior recovery from both acute and chronic stroke.
Stroke remains the second-leading cause of death and the third-leading cause of death and disability combined (as expressed by disability-adjusted life-years lost – DALYs) in the world. The estimated global cost of stroke is estimated to be over $721 billion USD, representing 0.66% of the global GDP. In the UK, there are approximately 100,000 strokes per year (one stroke every 5 minutes) with 1.3 million current stroke survivors. In Canada, there are 50,000 new cases of stroke each year (one stroke every 10 minutes) with an estimated 405,000 Canadians living with the effects of stroke.
Figure 1. Stroke statistics from the United Kingdom (inc. Wales) and Canada (inc. Quebec).
In a bid to facilitate knowledge exchange between Quebec and Wales, researchers from Quebec visited Cardiff in August 2022 after a two-year delay due to the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday 17 August, researchers presented their work at the Cardiff Cerebrovascular and Cardiovascular Benefits of Exercise Symposium, hosted by Cardiff Metropolitan University.
In January 2023, researchers from Wales travelled to Quebec to visit both McGill University in Montreal and Université Laval in Quebec City. Academics from the University of South Wales presented their work alongside those from Cardiff Metropolitan University, Université de Montréal, Concordia University, McGill University and Université Laval at the Wales-Quebec Cerebrovascular Health Symposium.
The funding provided by Welsh Government and Relations Internationales et Francophonie have enabled this group of experts in the prescription of exercise in stroke rehabilitation, neuroplasticity, cardiopulmonary and cerebrovascular health to discuss novel interventions for stroke recovery, yielding substantial long-term benefits for the people of both Québec and Wales. Their research has been published in the Journal of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, and the Journal of Physiology.