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WFNR Franz Gerstenbrand Award

Information for applicants

The WFNR Franz Gerstenbrand Award, worth £3000, recognises and rewards a neurorehabilitation project that has benefitted patients.

Named after Professor Franz Gerstenbrand in recognition of his contribution to neurorehabilitation, the Award is open to WFNR members and non-members worldwide.

Entries for the WFNR Award are welcome from clinicians, researchers and allied health professionals who are currently working in neurorehabilitation.  Special consideration is given to applications from those under 30 years of age.  

Entry categories

Entries can involve any aspect of neurorehabilitation, e.g.:

  • Patient or clinic management initiative
  • Research project
  • Best practice development
  • Use of a new technological development

The entries must demonstrate a difference to patient outcome.

The work described must be completed and yielded results, or published in the last 12 months.

£3000 prize

There is a single prize of £3000.

This will be awarded for a:

  • Travel bursary to a clinical/scientific conference
  • Professional development course
  • Research project

Further information

Apply here


Dr Charlotte Stagg, Associate Professor and Sir Henry Dale Fellow who is based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, UK is the winner of the 2016 WFNR Franz Gerstenbrand Award.

Chronic stroke is one of the most common causes of long-term neurological disability.  The recovery of hand function is extremely important for stroke survivors but intensive physiotherapy, the current ‘gold’ standard intervention is expensive, in short supply and inherently limited by the activity of the residual cortex. 

One potential adjunct therapy is transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to the ipsilesional primary motor cortex (M1).  Anodal transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (A-tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that involves passing a 1mA current through the brain via two scalp electrodes, with one centred over the ipsilesional M1.  

Dr Stagg reported on a randomised, double-blind placebo controlled trial using A-tDCS as an adjunct to physiotherapy in patients with chronic stroke.  Patients received a one-hour long standardised upper limb training intervention across nine consecutive working days, with tDCS applied during the first 20 minutes each day.  They were then assessed before, one day, one week, one month and three months after the intervention.  Patients also had an MRI scan where a range of sequences were acquired, including functional MRI and measures of grey matter volume. 

Overall the improvements in function seen in the A-tDCS group reflected meaningful long-lasting functional benefits.  As A-tDCS is a relatively cheap, well-tolerated and easy-to-use approach, the results of this study suggest that it could rapidly become part of clinical practice and guide therapy developments.          


Dr Wuwei Feng, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of South Carolina, USA is the winner of the 3rd WFNR Franz Gerstenbrand Award. 

Motor impairment is the most common complication after stroke and making accurate predictions about motor outcome and recovery potential continues to challenge stroke clinicians.  Dr Feng used the Upper-Extremity Fugl-Meyer (UE-FM) Scale to measure the motor impairment in the acute phase and at three months, in 76 patients in a two-cohort study.  A weighted CST lesion load (wCST-LL) was calculated by overlaying the patient’s lesion map on MRI with a probabilistic CST constructed from age-matched healthy control subjects.   Dr Feng found that the wCST-LL could effectively predict post-stroke motor outcomes at three months in both cohorts, especially in patients with severe impairment at baseline.  This tool only requires a clinical MRI scan which gives it an advantage over other methods and its use will mean that patients and their families can be better informed about motor recovery prognosis.  

Dr Feng will use part of  the prize to attend the 9th World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation to be held in Philadelphia in May 2016.  The rest, he will donate to the Stroke Reseasrch Foundation.