Adjunct senior lecturer with the Stroke and Ageing Research Group Dr Michele Callisaya won the top Investigator Award at the SSA Scientific Meeting earlier this month in Melbourne.
Dr Callisaya’s oral presentation, ‘Subcortical infarcts and the risk of falls: combined results of TASCOG and Sydney MAS’ earned her the prestigious Peter Bladin New Investigator Award.
“We aimed to examine whether tiny strokes occurring deep in the brain, known as small subcortical infarcts, increase the risk of falls in older people,” said Dr Callisaya.
As people age, they tend to have an increasing number of such small subcortical infarcts even without knowing it. Older people are also at risk of falling and suffering serious injuries but until now, there has been no data on the role of small subcortical infarcts leading to falls.
“Our investigation found there is almost double the risk of falls in older people who have three or more small subcortical infarcts,” said Dr Callisaya.
It is likely that a large burden of such infarcts disrupts the wiring in the brain and leads to impaired balance.”
The study also found that having weak leg muscles and poorer vision amplified this risk.
“Apart from trying to prevent such infarcts from occurring, interventions aimed at strengthening leg muscles and improving vision may offset the risk of falling in older people.”
Dr Callisaya’s award, $1000 and a trip to the UK to present at the British Stroke Society meeting, provides her with an exciting opportunity to present her work internationally and meet others in the field.
“This award is also an important recognition of Associate Professor Velandai Srikanth’s mentoring, the support of others in the Stroke and Ageing Research Group, and interstate collaborators,” added Dr Callisaya.
Dr Callisaya is Associate Professor Srikanth's fourth past student to win this prestigious award. Previous recipients include Dr Lauren Sanders, Dr Philip Choi, and Dr Chris Moran.