Brain Injury and Rehabilitation
Almost half a million Australians have an acquired brain injury (slightly more than one in every fifty people). We are interested in improving our understanding of brain injury as it occurs in populations including children and adults, as a result of trauma or stroke, and from the perspectives of neuroimaging to everyday function. We have a particular focus on investigating functional and psychosocial outcomes, the factors that impact on these outcomes, and the development and evaluation of intervention programs for a broad range of problems experienced by individuals with brain injury, with the ultimate aim of maximising their functional, psychological and social outcomes.
- An NHMRC-funded world-first trial of the efficacy of melatonin for sleep disturbance following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is near completion and conducted by Professors Jennie Ponsford, Shantha Rajaratnam and Dr Natalie Grima.
- Also nearing completion is a world-first controlled trial of light therapy for fatigue and sleep disturbance, led by Professors Shantha Rajaratnam and Jennie Ponsford, and supported by the Victorian Neurotrauma Initiative.
- A world-first randomized controlled trial (RCT) investigating the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for sleep and fatigue following TBI and stroke is being conducted by Professor Jennie Ponsford, DPsych student Sylvia Nguyen, Dr Adam McKay, Dr Dana Wong and Professor Shantha Rajaratnam. This study is supported from the NHMRC Moving Ahead Centre of Research Excellence in Brain Recovery.
- Following the success of a trial establishing the efficacy of adapted CBT for anxiety and depression after TBI, DPsych student Leah Zelencich is examining the nature and impact of working alliance and homework compliance in CBT study participants and the nature of therapy modifications to accommodate cognitive impairments. This project is supervised by Prof Jennie Ponsford, A/Prof Nikolaos Kazantzis and Dr Dana Wong.
- Drs Dana Wong and Adam McKay are leading the implementation of the adapted CBT program into clinical practice by evaluating the impact of training psychologists to deliver the specialised intervention.
- Professor Jennie Ponsford has received funding from the TAC to continue the Longitudinal Head Injury Study, which follows up a large cohort of individuals who have sustained moderate to severe TBI, over a 20-year period. This study aims to provide a comprehensive picture of outcome and the factors predicting outcome, including age, genetic, cognitive, psychosocial and cultural factors.
- With funding from the Institute for Safety Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR), Professor Jennie Ponsford, Dr. Adam McKay and DPsych student Jess-Trevena Peters are completing a world-first study of the efficacy of early therapy for patients in post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). In parallel with this study, DPsych student Caroline Roberts is studying the recovery of memory processes during and after PTA, and DPsych student Courtney Baxter is examining agitation and its management during PTA.
- Also with funding from ISCRR, Professor Jennie Ponsford, Professor Malcolm Hopwood and Dr Tim Feeney, together with research fellows Kate Gould and Amelia Hicks are conducting a study to further understanding of and evaluate the use of a Positive behaviour support intervention to address behaviours of concern following TBI.
- Dr Rene Stolwyk, together with Epworth Occupational Therapist Pamela Ross and DPsych student Bleydy Dimech-Betancourt, are currently developing simulator technology to improve driver rehabilitation techniques following brain injury. This study is supported by the Transport Accident Commission and RACV.
- Dr Rene Stolwyk and Dr Dana Wong are currently leading a world first collaboration between neuropsychologists, including doctoral student Toni Withiel, and health economists (Monash Stroke and Ageing Research Centre, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health) to ameliorate memory dysfunction in stroke patients. Their team are conducting a RCT comparing the efficacy and cost-efficiency of two approaches to memory rehabilitation (computer training vs compensation).
- With funding from the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network Subacute Initiative (Victorian Department of Health), Dr Dana Wong and Dr Rene Stolwyk are collaborating with neuropsychologists from Austin Health and Monash Health and health economists from the Monash Stroke & Ageing Research Centre and Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to evaluate the roll-out of the Monash Memory Skills Group (led by Dr Dana Wong) into two major public health services.
- Dr Dana Wong and Dr Rene Stolwyk, along with DPsych student David Lawson, are also extending investigation of memory rehabilitation post-stroke by comparing delivery of the memory skills program via telehealth methods with in-person delivery. This project is being supported by the Stroke Foundation and the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences.
- With funding from the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network Subacute Initiative (Victorian Department of Health), Dr Rene Stolwyk is leading the development and evaluation of a telehealth service to provide neuropsychological assessment and treatment of stroke patients, in partnership with Echuca Hospital. DPsych student Jodie Chapman is comparing in-person neuropsychological assessments with those delivered via telehealth methods.
- Dr. Catherine Willmott has funding from various sources including NHMRC, Industry and Monash University, to evaluate the use of accelerometers to assess biomechanical underpinnings of sports concussion in collaboration with Dr Andrew McIntosh and the NTRI, along with other investigations of the assessment and management of sports concussion.
- Dr Catherine Willmott along with Dr Gershon Spitz and DPsych student Jacqueline Owens are investigating the neuropathology and functional alterations associated with attentional disturbance in a series of neuroimaging studies following TBI.
- Together with A/Prof Matthew Mundy, Dr Gershon Spitz and Professor Jennie Ponsford are using functional imaging to examine the processes underpinning the impairment and recovery of memory in the early stages following TBI.
- Dr. Gershon Spitz has been awarded an NHMRC CJ Martin Early Career Fellowship, to examine novel approaches to remediate impaired cognition following acquired brain injury. Dr. Spitz will undertake his fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB), University of Oxford, London.
- Jennie Ponsford, Lisa Johnston and Kate Gould are continuing a prospective study of psychiatric disorders following TBI, funded by the TAC.
- With funding from the Epworth Research Institute, Dr Felicity Lorains and Professor Jennie Ponsford are examining the effectiveness of computerised training and compensatory memory rehabilitation approaches in individuals with memory difficulties following an acquired brain injury.
Centres and Groups
- Monash Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre
- Georgiou-Karistianis Group
- Molenberghs Group
- Mundy Group
- Ponsford Group
- Rajaratnam Group
- Stolwyk Group
Research Led Clinical Activity
- Head injury rehabilitation programme, Epworth Hospital