Researchers win grant for brain injury research - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

USC News

Researchers win grant for brain injury research

26 Oct 2016

University of the Sunshine Coast research into using phone apps and video game technology to improve the assessment of patients with traumatic brain injuries has received a grant from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV).

The study by USC PhD students and practising neurological physiotherapists Michelle Kahn and Megan Banky aims to develop low-cost technology for clinicians to use when measuring outcomes for patients with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

The pair, who work at Epworth Hospital, were delighted to receive a $57,000 Sir Edmund Herring Memorial Scholarship from the RACV that will help them find ways to assist people who have sustained brain injuries from vehicle crashes.

Ms Kahn said current methods of assessing people with ABI involved using motion tracking systems worth about $250,000 that are only available in a few locations in each state.

“We get updated phones every year, kids have video games capable of virtual reality, but in the clinical setting we’re using basic assessment measures developed in the 1950s,” she said.

“We want to utilise the modern motion sensor technology used in mobile phones and devices like the Xbox to measure a patient’s impairments, whether that’s a walking abnormality, spasticity or problems with upper limb movement.

“Because of the low cost of this equipment, this technology could be immediately integrated into hospitals and smaller clinics, including in rural or remote areas. This would allow people to access more accurate assessment and therefore better treatment sooner.

“One tool we’re developing would involve strapping a smart phone onto a person’s joint to measure their range and speed of movement, identifying the presence of spasticity, and evaluating if they improve following treatment.”

The Sir Edmund Herring Memorial Scholarship is a competitive grant that supports projects to prevent road trauma and improve the quality of care delivered to road trauma victims.

Ms Banky said improving the availability of assessment tools could have a direct impact on the quality of life of those with brain injuries.

“The current system forces patients to wait for months to be assessed, and months to have the results processed,” Ms Kahn said. “Because of that, people are delaying decisions about surgery and undergoing therapy without having an accurate measure of their progress.

“With ABI, we’re quite often working with young people who have the rest of their lives ahead of them. We need to get them functioning as well as they can so they can integrate into the community.

The research is being supervised by USC Senior Research Fellow Dr Ross Clark and conducted at Epworth Hospital, along with expert clinicians Professor John Olver and Associate Professor Gavin Williams.

Gen Kennedy

USC PhD students Michelle Kahn and Megan Banky

Related programs

Related articles

2020 graduate Evangeline Bryce in Norway during her degree
Media and politics spark graduate’s research career
28 Oct

A new USC Arts graduate and University Medallist fascinated by the intersection of media and politics in today’s rapidly changing world is now researching the different ways that the issue of climate change is presented in the news.

Expert panel: Creating COVID-safe environments
27 Oct

Ensuring our environments are safe and hygienic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the topic of a free public webinar on Thursday 29 October from 6-7pm.

COVID-19 and mental health: Researchers to share insights in free public webinar
9 Oct

Mental health experts from USC will share some of their latest research on staying well during COVID-19 in a free online seminar next week.

Contact the USC media team

Name Position Email Phone
Terry Walsh Manager, Media and Messaging +61 7 5430 1160
Janelle Kirkland Media Relations Coordinator +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Officer (Regional) +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for

Recent news