Many Lions Clubs meet twice per month with one meeting devoted to a Board or business meeting to develop, clarify and enact the strategies of the Club, whilst the second meeting is a dinner meeting with the focus on fellowship and a quality guest speaker.
The Lions Club of Camp Hill Carindale was fortunate to recently have a very informative presentation from Dr Lavinia Codd of the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), a University of Queensland research institute with 450 research staff.
Lavinia is a truly inspirational woman who after a very successful career as an accountant with firms in Australia and London, took time out to raise her family and explore a career change by studying science. Mid-way through her science studies, aged 31, Lavinia suffered a stroke.
She highlighted to our Lions members and guests the FAST acronym which is used to rapidly check for common signs of stroke:
- Face – has one side of the person’s mouth or face drooped?
- Arm – can the person lift both their arms?
- Speech – is the person’s speech slurred or strange?
- Time – if the person shows any of the above signs, it’s time to seek medical help.
Fortunately for Lavinia, when she had her stroke she was able to get rapid medical assistance.
As part of her stroke recovery treatment, she continued her science degree and finally completed her PhD in neuroscience at the QBI.
Today Lavinia continues her research on stroke recovery with a focus on mechanisms to promote the production of new brain cells and enhance neural connections. She outlined important research results from QBI that demonstrated how new brain cells can be produced in mature brains and that such production can be stimulated by physical exercise.
The prevalence of stroke is surprisingly high, with a stroke occurring in an Australian head every 10 minutes. Obviously not all of these are fatal, but the impact on individual patients and their families is immense. The emotional, social and financial burden on families and our community is enormous.
In 2012 it was estimated that the cost of stroke to the Australian healthcare system was $54 billion including direct financial costs, lost productivity, welfare payments and loss of tax revenue.
Despite the impact of stroke as a disease with a high impact on the nation, research in this area attracts less than 4% of the research funds awarded through the highly competitive National Health and Medical Research Council funding programs. This highlights the importance of the work undertaken by Lavinia and her colleagues at the QBI.