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Research projects are available in a number of fields and topics and vary each year.

Summer Research Projects (2016-17)

Treatment fidelity within ASK (Action Success Knowledge), a psychosocial intervention to prevent depression in people with aphasia, delivered by speech and language therapists

Contact:      Dr Brooke Ryan
Duration:    8 weeks

Description:    

Aphasia ASK (Action Success Knowledge) is a psychosocial depression prevention program for people with aphasia after stroke, designed to be implemented by speech and language therapists. Over one hundred speech pathologists in Australia have been trained to deliver the intervention as a part of a randomised control trial. This current study aims to assess the fidelity of the speech and language therapists’ delivery of the intervention, including therapy specific criteria as well as process aspects (e.g., building rapport and the use of clinical communication skills such as supported conversation techniques). All therapy sessions have been video recorded. 

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Murri School moments: Student experiences of service learning in an independent Indigenous school

Contact:      Lead by Dr Emma Campbell and administered by UQ Poche Centre
Duration:    10 weeks

Description:    

Service learning can involves a two way interaction whereby students contribute to a community through their learning experience and they develop new contextualised skills and knowledge. It can involve professional training experiences such as student fieldwork or placements.  In 2015, approximately 80 students submitted their written reflections on their five week service learning placements at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Independent Community School (The Murri School) as part of this study.

What did the students learn from working in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context? Did their experiences change the way they see the world? If so, how? What helped or hindered their learning? What difference might these experiences make in the careers of the students?

In search of answers to these questions, this research aims to understand the student’s experiences through analysis of their written reflections. Data collection and entry has been completed and the next step involves qualitiative analysis and write-up of the analysis.

The student involved in this summer research project will be involved in analysing data, and the writing up of a research paper.

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Enhancing skills of allied health profesisonals in assisting patients to manage and recover from chronic musculoskeletal conditions

Contact:      Dr Shaun O'Leary
Duration:    8-10 weeks

Description:    

Musculoskeletal conditions are one of the highest causes of disability worldwide. In recent years an emphasis has been placed on effective non-surgical management interventions for these conditions with a particular emphasis on fostering self-management (ie. conditioning exercise programs, weight loss).  Therefore the success or failure of these interventions hinges on patient engagement which may be strongly influenced by their relationship with the Allied Health professionals (AHP) they consult.  The purpose of this project is to identify the attributes required by AHP to foster maximal engagement of patients and to establish the current levels of training that clinicians perceive they have in this area of clinical expertise. Furthermore the study will investigate potential barriers and facilitators that exist for development of this specific skill set within AHP.   

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Occupational performance coaching as a means of supporting parents to enable their children with developmental disabilities achieve daily life goals: Therapists' experiences

Contact:      Professor Jenny Ziviani
Duration:    6-10 weeks

Description:

Occupational performance coaching is an approach to occupational therapy intervention which aims to support parents/caregivers to identify and implement strategies that will enable children to achieve daily life goals (e.g. self-care, educational, social and play skills). It is focussed at parents/caregivers as the mediators of change for their children and may not necessitate working therapeutically with the child.  There is evidence of its effectiveness in children with developmental difficulties when undertaken in the context of private practice. It is currently being implemented in Community Health Centres by therapists working for Children’s Health Queensland. The focus of the current investigation is to understand the impact of organisational and contextual factors on therapists’ experience of delivering intervention in this way. 

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Exploring the clinical progression of communication and swallowing impairment in patients with Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

Contact:      Dr Anna Rumbach
Duration:    6-8 weeks

Description:

Background and aim: Communication and swallowing impairments associated with MND are prevalent and debilitating symptoms of the disease that worsen as the disease progresses. Currently, there is no known cure and no effective treatment for MND. Therefore, under the guidance of speech pathologists, people with MND and their carers must adjust, compensate and manage rapidly declining swallowing function in order to maintain health-related quality of life. As there is limited information available regarding the progression of swallowing symptoms, clinicians are not well placed to anticipate problems. This project aims to examine the trajectory of decline of communication and swallowing function across the course of MND.
 
Methods:
This project is a mixed-methods study.
 
Part 1 involves a retrospective chart review of consecutive patients attending a multidisciplinary MND clinic between 2003 and 2013 (Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Prince Charles Hospital).
 
Part 2 involves semi-structured interviews of people currently living with communication and swallowing impairments as a result of MND. This will enable recognition of all factors impacting the person living with communication impairment and dysphagia as a consequence of MND and better inform the nature of the services that are desired/required. Data collection is currently underway.
 
Please note: It is also likely that the scholar will be involved in a number of additional multidisciplinary research projects.

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Physiotherapy research in neurological populations

Contact:      Professor Sandy Brauer
Duration:    8-10 weeks

Description:    

The scholarship student will work with staff (academic, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants) and PhD students to analyse data, assist with data collection and contribute to associated tasks across several funded physiotherapy trials in rehabilitation. It may include interaction with people with stroke, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, hip osteoarthritis, and control subjects across both University and hospital sites. Data collection, entry, and/or analysis may include biomechanical data, motor control data, clinical physiotherapy assessment data, qualitative data, physiological and behavioural data. Students may be asked to assist with administrative tasks.

Individuals with excellent communication skills, high performance in physiotherapy coursework, initiative, independence, an interest in research and an ability to work well with others is sought.

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Novel shoe insoles to improve walking performance in healthy adults and people with Multiple Sclerosis

Contact:      Dr Anna Hatton
Duration:    10 weeks

Description:    

Footwear interventions, such as shoe insoles and foot orthoses, are becoming increasingly popular in clinical and healthy populations. This is because they offer a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive intervention that may help to prevent lower limb overuse injuries, alleviate pain, maintain skin integrity at the feet, and enhance movement patterns. A wide variety of foot orthoses and insoles are emerging, which incorporate novel design features such as ridges of elastometric materials, vibrating components, and textured upper surfaces. The latter claim to optimise functional task performance by targeting sensorimotor mechanisms, such as stimulation of sensory receptors. The scholar will be involved in two research projects which aim to: i) explore whether prolonged wear of textured shoe insoles improves walking ability and foot sensory function (light touch-pressure, vibration, 2-point discrimination, joint proprioception) in people with Multiple Sclerosis and; ii) investigate the immediate effects of wearing glycerine-filled shoe insoles on gait patterns in healthy adults and determine whether any changes in gait are related to perceived comfort.

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Inter-professional and inter-cultural learning in developing countries

Contact:      Dr Emma Crawford and Dr Anne Hill
Duration:    10 weeks

Description:    

The Inter-professional and inter-cultural (IPIC) placement program by the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) at The University of Queensland, Australia, provides inter-professional collaborative practice and cultural immersion opportunities to occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech pathology students. These placements provide a unique, authentic experience to enable students to develop a wide range of skills that meet the desired objective of enhancing students’ understanding and awareness of global practice in the health professions. Student placements occur in Timor Leste and Vietnam during the final year of studies.
 
Research has been undertaken within the IPIC placement program since 2011 when placements first began in Vietnam. This research aims to understand experiences of the IPIC placement program from the perspectives of students, staff, clinical educators and local partners. Data has been collected using surveys and video diaries over this time.
 
The student involved in this summer research project will be involved in organisation of data, analysis of data, and the writing up of a research paper.

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Exploring the impact in home services on the experience of home

Contact:      Dr Tammy Aplin
Duration:    8 weeks

Description:    

Support services provided within the home by paid staff providing assistance with activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living can change the meaning of home, with the home becoming a workplace rather than a private place of one’s own. There is little research exploring the impact of these services on the home life of people receiving the services and living within the home.

This project will gather quantitative data using the Dimensions of Home Measure (DOHM) to understand the experience of home for people receiving in home services and how it impacts their day to day life at home. This data will be vitally important to not only understand the experience of home for people receiving in home care, but also to further evaluate the psychometrics properties of the DOHM.

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Working our if Work it Out Works: Evaluation of a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program

Duration:    6 weeks
 
Discription:
 
Programs that support chronic disease prevention, self-management, and rehabilitation are key to addressing the health-gap that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. This is because chronic diseases account for 70 percent of the health-gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Vos et al., 2009). For example, according to Vos and colleagues, Type II Diabetes accounts for 12 percent of the health-gap and is one of the three main chronic diseases that contribute to this gap, along with cardiovascular disease and substance use disorders. 
 
Work It Out is a free education and exercise program delivered by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and designed specifically for urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with, or at risk of, a chronic disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic conditions, who participate in the program, are provided with support to cope, take part in everyday activities and live a healthy lifestyle. Participants are referred to the program by their doctor.
 
The program aims  to:
  • improve quality of life/participation in everyday life
  • increase confidence and ability to cope
  • improve fitness
  • provide a better understanding of how to live a healthy and active life
  • improve social and emotional wellbeing
 
The program is based on a 12 week cycle  (Participants can complete more than 1 cycle). Each week there are 2-4 sessions. Each session involves one hour of exercise and a 45 minute education session, delivered by a range of health professionals, including Indigenous health workers, occupational therapists, exercise physiologists, psychologists, dietitians, and diabetes educators. Each participant's exercise program is individually tailored for them by an exercise physiologist and delivered within a supportive group setting.
Allied health professionals also undertake one-on-one consultations with clients so they can achieve a greater result.
 

*Projects are subject to change.