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Auricular stimulation to improve cough sensitivity after stroke

24 months
Approved budget:
Associate Professor Yusuf Cakmak
Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee
Dr Karen Ng
Health issue:
Neurological (CNS)
Proposal type:
Explorer Grant
Lay summary
Neurological disease, such as stroke, has a devastating effect on sensation in the throat and the cough reflex. Without the ability to detect food or fluid from entering the lungs and eject it with a cough, stroke patients are at a high risk of developing a chest infection. Chest infection is associated with prolonged hospitalisation, high death rate, and significant cost to the healthcare system. There are currently limited rehabilitation options available. Interestingly, probing the ear canal during a medical examination or having impacted ear wax can elicit coughing. We propose to develop a protocol and explore the effect of using light electrical stimulation of the nerves within the outer ear to improve cough sensitivity after stroke. Using a wearable device to stimulate the external ear has the potential of providing a portable, safe, non-invasive, and low-cost treatment for improving the cough reflex and boosting airway protection.