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 better understanding brain injury as it occurs in populations including children and adults, as a result of trauma or stroke, in basic science and animal research, 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.
Brain Trauma: Professor Jennie Ponsford provides her expertise on Catalyst regarding brain injury mechanisms and rehabilitation following motor vehicle accidents. Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3291518.htm
Therapy shines new light on brain trauma and fatigue: Jennie Ponsford promotes light therapy research. Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/therapy-shines-new-light-on-brain-trauma-and-fatigue-20110807-1ihoe.html
- The Australian Psychological Society’s publication, InPsych will be publishing a feature edition on traumatic brain injury, with contributions from Dr Dana Wong, Dr Adam McKay and Professor Jennie Ponsford
Associate Professor Stephen Robinson’s team is conducting research in two areas relevant to our theme:
1) They are investigating a new class of drug that may have potential to reduce brain damage after intracerebral hemorrhage. This work has been funded by a small grant from the Stroke Foundation.
2) They have discovered that some anaesthetics cause the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to become leaky. This has implications for recovery from surgery, as a leaky BBB has the potential to provoke neuroinflammation and contribute to delirium.
Audrey McKinlay, together with Jennie Ponsford and DPsych student Coco Bernard, is commencing a study of post-concussional symptoms in children with mild TBI, at Sunshine Hospital. Audrey also has several projects running in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Catherine Willmott was awarded a Monash Strategic Grant for an investigation of the association between neuroanatomical correlates of attention and working memory, and response to methylphenidate in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. This will also carried out in collaboration with Gary Egan and Jerome Maller and will be the doctoral research of DPsych student Jacquie Owens. This study forms part of a randomized controlled trial of the use of methylphenidate to alleviate attentional problems following TBI, which is about to commence as the doctoral research of DPsych student Alicia Dymowski.
Mellita Giummarra is doing exciting work in pain rehabilitation. Together with Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis and a large team she is hoping to fund a large study examining predictors of pain following trauma and evaluating various experimental interventions.
Professor Jennie Ponsford and Associate Professor Shanthakumar Rajaratnam received an NHMRC grant for their project ‘Efficacy of melatonin for sleep disturbance following traumatic brain injury’ to commence in 2012. This study has commenced recently. It represents the doctoral research project of Natalie Grima, who is being assisted by Kelly Sinclair, who is also continuing the Victoria Neurotrauma Initiatives funded trial of light therapy for fatigue and sleepiness following TBI.
Dr Rene Stolwyk, Professor Jennie Ponsford, Judith Charlton and Pamela Ross received funding from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation/ Victorian Neurotrauma Initiative for their project ‘Safer Roads to Recovery: Assessing Readiness for Driving after Traumatic Brain Injury.’ DPsych student James Gooden is examining the association of awareness with driving performance within this project.
Dr Rene Stolwyk is leading a project to develop a measure of awareness in stroke patients, being carried out by DPsych student Kate Cameron.
Adam McKay, Dana Wong and Jennie Ponsford, along with Meaghan O’Donnell and Nicole Lee are overseeing an NHMRC-funded trial of motivational interviewing and adapted cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety and depression following TBI. This is the first trial of its kind conducted in the moderate to severe TBI population. Adam and Dana have developed specialist expertise in the techniques of delivering this therapy. Christina Furtado has recently joined our team as project co-ordinator.
Jennie Ponsford, Adam McKay, and Kate Gould together with DPsych student Yvette Alway are continuing a prospective study of psychiatric disorders following TBI, funded by the TAC. Within this project Yvette is also studying the impact of family interactions on the subsequent emotional adjustment of individuals with TBI, under Adam McKay’s supervision
Adam McKay and Jennie Ponsford are co-supervising DPsych student Cally Richardson in a prospective study of the development of self-awareness after TBI, being conducted at Epworth. She will be presenting this work at the forthcoming World Congress on NeuroRehabilitaiton to be held in Melbourne, May 16-19 2012.
Gershon Spitz, PhD student under supervision of Jennie Ponsford and Jerome Maller is examining the association between cognitive function and brain integrity using various imaging technologies over the first year following TBI. He will be presenting his work at the forthcoming World Congress on NeuroRehabilitaiton to be held in Melbourne, May 16-19 2012.
Jane Dahm, DPsych student working with Jennie Ponsford and Dana Wong, is prospectively examining long-term outcome following orthopaedic trauma, examining change over time and predictive factors and comparing out comes with those of a cohort of traumatically brain-injured patients. In 2011 Jane was awarded the school prize for the best 3-minute thesis presentation, representing the school in the faculty competition.
Audrey McKinlay was the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research (Early Career) Award and the prestigious ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) for her project ‘Early identification of young people at risk of offending behaviour and mental health issues following traumatic brain injury’.
Centres and Groups
Professor Jennie Ponsford (Theme Leader)
Dr Kate Gould
Dr Christine Migliorini
Dr Michael Schonburger
Research Led Education
- Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology
- Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology
- Honours in Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience
- Honours in Psychology
Research Led Clinical Activity
- Head injury rehabilitation programme, Epworth Hospital
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