Summer Research Projects
Working out if Work It Out Works: Evaluation of a chronic disease self-management program
Contact: Dr Emma Campbell
Duration: 10 weeks
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 per cent of the health gap between 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 per cent 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 development and validation of the Signficant Other Scale for Dysphagia in head and neck cancer (SOS-DYSPHAGIA H&N)
Contact: Dr Rebecca Nund
Duration: 6 weeks
The aim of the principle project that the student will be working on is to develop an instrument to measure the third-party disability experienced by carers of people with dysphagia following head and neck cancer. Emerging qualitative research has demonstrated the negative impact of dysphagia on the functioning of carers of people with HNC. However, there are currently no quantitative instruments available to identify and measure the impact of dysphagia following HNC on the carer. In addition to this project, the student will also have opportunities to be involved in a number of additional projects currently being conducted at the Centre for Functioning and Health Research (CFAHR) with other internationally recognised researchers in head and neck cancer.
Meeting the communication information needs of families of children with Down Syndrome
Contact: Dr Carly Meyer
Duration: 6 weeks
Communication disability is a hallmark feature of Down Syndrome, and for this reason, families of children with Down Syndrome actively seek information about speech pathology services and communication in general. In a recent interview study with nine families of children with Down Syndrome, we have explored when families would like to receive information about communication, what type of information is needed, and how this information could be provided. The proposed research project will translate these research findings into practice through the development and qualitative evaluation of web-based materials in accordance with a Participatory Action Research paradigm.
Research at the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC) - children's social skills and adult project
Contact: Professor Sylvia Rodger
Duration: 8 - 10 weeks
The applicant will have contact with two key areas and a number of ongoing research activities providing interest and variety.
Social Skills Research Activities will include some of the following:
- Analysis of years of pre-post training data on self-reported confidence and competence in consultation skills with the kiddies. (purely quantitative)
- Analysis of collated data form clinics or schools running Secret Agent Society (SAS) in the community
- Analysis of computer game user data from 25 children
- Adult research projects
- Analysis of qualitative data from interview transcripts with PhD students commencing with the CRC regarding their hopes, aspirations and expectations.
- Assist with analysis and preparation of a paper on the outcomes of a survey of top research priorities among the Australian autism community.
Factors influencing the aetiology, diagnosis and identification of risk factors in cervical spine conditions
Duration: approx 6 weeks
Headache, neck pain and dizziness are common features of cervical spine musculoskeletal conditions but they can also be early indicators of other non-musculoskeletal conditions such as vestibular pathology eg benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular migraine or more serious pathologies such as arterial dissection. The purpose of the project is to improve the differential diagnosis of headache, neck pain and dizziness.
The specific aims are:
- To identify factors which may help predict cervical arterial dissection
- To identify factors which may help in the differential diagnosis of cervicogenic dizziness.
The project will involve the collection and analysis of specific variables from three existing data sources, clinical data from patients with cervical arterial dissection, data from patients with headache or neck pain and dizziness handicap inventory data from patients with cervicogenic dizziness and BPPV. It may also include some clinical testing. These results will either be compared to each other or to data from a general population cohort, which will also be available.
Exploring the clinical progression of communication and swallowing impairment in patients with Motor Neurone Disease (MND)
Contact: Dr Anna Rumbach
Duration: 6 - 8 weeks
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.
The effect of ankle taping and bracing on stability, function and postural control
Contact: Dr Michelle Smith
Duration: 6 - 8 weeks
Ankle injuries are the most common lower extremity injury, and account for approximately 15%-30% of all sporting injuries. Prophylactic ankle taping and bracing have been shown to decrease the risk of primary and recurrent ankle injuries, and are therefore recommended for athletes completing in high risk sports. In light of this recommendation, it is important to understand how these interventions effect perceived stability, postural control and sporting/functional performance. This study aims to understand how different bracing and taping effect perceived stability, postural control and sporting/functional performance in people with and without chronic ankle instability.
The effects of prolonged wear of textured shoe insoles on walking in people with Multiple Sclerosis
Contact: Dr Anna Hatton
Duration: 10 weeks
Many people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) experience problems with walking, which can make day to day activities difficult and often leads to falls. Improving walking ability is, therefore, of primary importance in maintaining health, independence, and quality of life in people living with MS. Gait impairments in MS are often caused by a combination of typical symptoms, such as altered function of muscles, nerves, and senses. The key to improving mobility is, therefore, to use a range of different treatment techniques which address each of these symptoms. Foot sensation plays an important role in keeping the body balanced whilst walking, yet, we know from previous studies that people with MS often have poor sensation on the soles of their feet. It is, therefore, possible that wearing a specially designed shoe insole, which enhances plantar sensory information, could help people affected by MS to walk better. This RCT will investigate whether long-term wear of a textured shoe insole can improve walking in people with MS. We will analyse how people with MS walk over an even and uneven surface, when they are wearing the insoles for the first time and after three months wear. We will explore whether wearing the insoles changes the way the body segments move (motion capture analysis) during walking. We will also monitor any changes in foot sensation and awareness of foot position, to help us better understand how our insoles may bring about their effects on walking.
This study is funded by MS Research Australia, involves collaborations with international researchers and a partnership with footwear industry. The study has also received substantial media attention. Data collection will be conducted off campus.
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