Rehabilitation Research

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Kids Rehab is a busy clinical unit which currently serves more than 3,000 patients. Over 60% of our staff is actively involved in clinical research. In addition to projects being conducted within our unit, we collaborate on a wide range of projects within the wider community of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and at a state-wide and international level.

We are currently establishing a new and exciting collaboration with the Developmental Cognitive Neuropsychology (DeCog) Research Unit, an internationally recognised developmental neuropsychology research facility focusing on investigating neuropsychological outcomes and monitoring neuropsychological status in children with developmental or acquired disorders. We are working with DeCog to establish new projects targeting rehabilitation of cognitive skills in children with brain injuries.

Research achievements

We are one of the largest centres providing botulinum toxins therapy for children with spasticity in Australia, and our ongoing research in this area has contributed greatly to international knowledge of the outcomes and safety profile of this important treatment modality for children with cerebral palsy.

We have commenced enrolment in a study of deep brain stimulation in children with cerebral palsy. This is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of work in this new innovation in the management of the challenging problem of dystonia. A national database to monitor outcomes and adverse events following intrathecal baclofen treatment for spasticity and dystonia was set up in early 2010. Our department is one of the main centres in Australia providing this intervention.

In other research, we are looking at the pharmacological and cognitive treatment options for children following acquired brain injury. We are trialling a play therapy-based intervention for the management of anxiety in children undergoing botulinum toxin injections, and assessing play skills for children with traumatic brain injury using Child Initiated Pretend Play Assessment (ChIPPA).

We are collaborating with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne on an NHMRC- funded project to examine the acute presentation and resolution of speech and swallowing disorders associated with traumatic brain injury and to develop a clinical tool for assessment of the speech and swallowing disorders in this population.