Scholarships awarded in memory of MND campaigner

A scholarship set up in memory of Motor Neurone Disease campaigner Gordon Aikman could lead to new developments in the care of MND patients.

Alison Clarke, a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, and Dianne Fraser, a clinical specialist in MND at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, are the first two recipients of the special scholarship established in Mr Aikman's name.

Both women will receive grants to research and develop practical improvements that can be made in the care patients with the degenerative condition receive.

The scholarships are being funded with £25,000 each from the Scottish Government and the charity MND Scotland.

After being diagnosed with MND at the age of 29 Mr Aikman, who died last year, raised £550,000 for research into the disease.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "I'm really pleased to confirm that Alison Clarke and Dianne Fraser are the recipients of the scholarships in Gordon Aikman's name.

"Gordon valued the relationships that he formed with all those involved in his care, including professionals. He was constantly striving to seek out treatments and approaches that would improve the quality of his own and other people's lives, and the scholarships aim to build on that - I look forward to hearing what Alison and Dianne achieve."

Ms Clarke said: "This scholarship is no doubt the biggest challenge of my 30 year nursing career, but I feel very privileged to have been awarded the research grant.

"It was Gordon's legacy to provide the best possible care for patients with MND in Scotland. This project means I can share evidence based research across respiratory/ventilation services throughout Scotland with the aim to change our current practices."

Ms Fraser added: "Motor Neurone Disease can affect the ability to breath and cough. I have been using a treatment technique called breath stacking with an adapted ambu bag, which costs only £32. This reduces distress when choking occurs, keeps the lungs elastic and healthy and may reduce hospital admissions.

"Currently there are only a few patients being taught this technique in North Scotland. This scholarship will mean I can complete in depth research with the ultimate aim of every appropriate patient in Scotland being offered this simple technique."

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