AVERT Early Rehabilitation Research Group

Reducing both the personal and community burden of stroke is a primary driver of the AVERT Early Intervention Research Program. We develop and test exercise and rehabilitation based interventions in people with stroke, with a particular focus on very early commencement of training. At the core of our research program is the largest international randomised controlled trial of very early rehabilitation (AVERT Phase III) ever conducted in stroke.  In addition to studying the efficacy and  cost effectiveness of interventions, we are also interested in understanding the potential mechanisms of exercise based rehabilitation interventions, working out when is the best time to start interventions to promote brain recovery and how best to prevent or reduce the often debilitating secondary effects of stroke.

Key themes of work, and the theme leaders in our group include:

Complex interventions in acute stroke:  Dr Julie Luker
Dr Luker’s post-doctoral research focuses on the implementation of complex interventions within acute stroke settings. She is a physiotherapist with extensive clinical experience in the field of stroke management and interdisciplinary models of team based care. She is actively involved in stroke service planning, clinical guideline development and implementation at national and state levels. Her PhD research explored factors that influence the quality of acute stroke care provided by allied health professionals, and she currently holds a part-time NHMRC postdoctoral fellowship to further explore the implementation of early stroke rehabilitation within acute stroke units.

Physical activity and sedentary behaviours:  Associate Professor Coralie English
Dr English is interested in the role physical activity has in both maximising recovery from stroke and in primary and secondary stroke prevention. To that end, her research has focussed on finding effective ways to reduce sedentary time and maximise physical activity in hospital and rehabilitation settings. For people later after stroke, she is particularly interested in the relationship between sedentary behaviours (sitting and lying down), physical activity and health outcomes. Dr English has expertise in objective activity monitoring (such as accelerometry) as well as self-report use of time tools, and Motivational Interviewing as an intervention. She is an associate Professor of Physiotherapy at the University of Newcastle/Hunter Medical Research Institute and Snr Research Affiliate with the Centre for Research Excellence

Exercise, cognition and mood:  Dr Toby Cumming
Dr Cumming’s primary interests are cognitive impairment, mood disorder and fatigue after stroke, and whether physical activity can help to reduce these problems. Understanding changes that take place in the acute stage of stroke (within the first two weeks) is a focus of his research. He is also conducting research into whether exercise might be related to changes in brain structure and function following stroke. He has expertise in activity monitoring, neuropsychological testing, assessment of mood disorders and statistical analysis. Dr Cumming is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Stroke Division at the Florey.

Exercise Physiology:  Dr Liam Johnson
Dr Johnson’s research is focused on establishing a safe and efficacious exercise-training model that will promote recovery, improve cardiovascular health and quality of life after stroke. His research in assessing how exercise capacity changes over time after stroke will inform the development of exercise training guidelines to accelerate recovery, enhance motor function and reduce the disability experienced post-stroke. Dr Johnson has expertise in exercise testing and prescription in clinical populations and balance testing, and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Stroke Division at the Florey.

A glimpse at our research

A Very Early Rehabilitation Trial (AVERT)Cerebral Haemodynamics and Orthostatic Response to Upright Posture in Acute Ischaemic Stroke (CHORUS)Characterising Arm Recovery in People with Severe Stroke (CARPSS)Prediction of Long-Term Outcome after Stroke Using Clinically Available Acute Brain ImagingOptimising stroke rehabilitation: Do short exercise sessions improve motor learning after stroke?Building Patient Centred Concepts into Stroke RehabilitationExploring the Implementation of Early Rehabilitation for Patients with Acute StrokeThe Effect of Very Early Mobilisation after Stroke on Cognitive OutcomeExamining Exercise Preferences after StrokeFatigue After Stroke Trial (FAST): A randomised controlled studyThe Missing Medians: Exclusion of Ordinal Data from Meta-AnalysesVirtual Reality Cognitive Assessment in AphasiaIs The SenseWear Armband a Valid and Reliable Tool to Measure Energy Expenditure Early after Stroke?Changes in Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness Early after Stroke: A Longitudinal StudyAltering the Rehabilitation Environment to Improve Stroke Survivor Activity (AREISSA): A Phase II TrialPhysical and Social activity patterns in an acute neurological unit environment: an observational studyPredicting the recovery of walking after strokeImproving outcome assessment in stroke rehabilitation trials Testing for ‘contamination’ of standard care in a trial of acute stroke rehabilitationStratifying stroke patients in rehabilitation and recovery trialsIncreasing physical activity in stroke rehabilitation units – towards an effective solutionImproving recovery early after stroke: Can we make the hospital environment more stimulating?The effect of blue light on post-stroke fatigueThe impact of motivation on stroke rehabilitationThe brain benefits of exercise training after strokeStroke-CARE - Developing a Cardiac Rehabilitation Model of Exercise for Stroke SurvivorsImplementing the Stroke Exercise Preference Inventory (SEPI) at an inpatient rehabilitation siteRight dose, right person, right time: Advancing stroke rehabilitation paradigmsNew Optimised Virtual Environment Living Lab: Using virtual reality and design science to redesign stroke rehabilitation environmentsTesting for ‘contamination’ of standard care in a trial of acute stroke rehabilitationPost-stroke changes to bone microarchitecture in a rat model of transient middle cerebral artery ischemiaIs pre-stroke fitness associated with rate of stroke recovery?Common and rare variants underlying vascular remodeling of brain arteries in young patients with TIA and strokeImproved understanding of imaging features of cerebral venous thrombosis using a large, international multicentre imaging repositoryA Very Early Rehabilitation Trial (AVERT): Database Projects


15 million strokes and six million stroke deaths occur each year leaving 55 million survivors suffering the consequences of stroke. The Stroke Division of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health comprises a team of 80 basic and clinical scientists whose aim is to understand the pathophysiology of stroke, optimise existing therapies and develop new treatments and techniques to both prevent and reduce the impact of stroke. The division has five research teams, Stroke Preclinical Science, the AVERT Early Intervention Research Program, the Neurorehabilitation and Recovery group, Public Health and Epidemiology including the Stroke Telemedicine program and the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry, and Clinical Trials.

All Labs that operate in this Division

AVERT Early Rehabilitation Research GroupNeurorehabilitation and Recovery GroupNHMRC Centre of Excellence in Stroke Rehabilitation and RecoveryPublic Health and Health Services Research Group