University of Adelaide R21001 – commenced 10 March 2022

Research Team: Dr Diana Dorstyn, Dr Boris Fedoric

WorkGain, an approved provider under ReturnToWorkSA and the Lifetime Support Authority of SA, will evaluate their unique rehabilitation service. Since 2018, WorkGain has provided individualised work simulation programs to assist over 400 South Australians with a severe physical injury, and associated comorbidities, reach maximum work capacity as rapidly and safely as possible. WorkGain uses actual work tasks and settings, custom-designed to the individual, as a form of rehabilitation. This approach is distinct from the traditional model of rehabilitative care which involves broadly sourced work hardening placements In partnership with the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, injured workers who have received rehabilitation from WorkGain will be interviewed. The project will integrate their stories, including a description of their goals, program content and results of work simulation rehabilitation, with the perspectives of staff involved in the development and delivery of WorkGain's multidisciplinary service. The project will use clients’ self-identified solutions to enhance WorkGain’s rehabilitation processes and, ultimately, enhance employment outcomes for this complex cohort.

Our aims are to:

  • Describe clients’ and professionals’ experiences of a work simulation rehabilitation program.
  • Improve knowledge about the stakeholder perspective in vocational rehabilitation.
  • Translate our findings by providing WorkGain with best practice strategies and approaches for implementation, as advised by our participants.

The University of Adelaide R21003 – commenced 9 March 2022

Research Team: Associate Professor Lyndsey Collins-Praino, Dr Anna Leonard, Dr Irina Baetu, Dr David Hobbs and Ms Kavi Savisankar.

CCD is a concerning yet clinically under-recognised complication within individuals who experience SCI. As such, an increasing number of SCI individuals with CCD go undiagnosed and may experience a reduced quality-of-life. Whilst there are well established tools for evaluating motor and sensory impairment globally, such as the American Spinal Cord Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment scale, there are no set clinical screening and management guidelines available for post-SCI CCD.

Aim 1: Survey clinicians regarding the prevalence of chronic cognitive dysfunction (CCD) and potential management strategies for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).

The lack of awareness of post-SCI CCD is also present in individuals with SCI. Accordingly, we need to determine if an SCI individual's perceived experience of CCD and its effect on their quality-of-life correlate with the findings from a formal cognitive testing.

Aim 2: Evaluate individuals with SCI for self-perceived CCD and identify the primary cognitive domains affected after SCI.

As cognition is a brain-centred function, it is essential to understand if intrinsic neuronal activity, either at baseline or during performance of a specific cognitive task, is altered within individuals with SCI. This understanding may provide critical insight into how SCI impacts function in brain regions known to be critical for cognitive function.

Aim 3: Investigate resting and task-based neuronal activity, during performance of a reinforcement learning task in individuals with SCI.

CT has been shown to improve cognition in multiple other neurological conditions, including stroke, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, and may thus represent an effective treatment for CCD post-SCI. Moreover, due to its highly customisable nature, it can potentially be tailored for specific domains identified to be impaired in individuals, thus creating a personalised treatment approach.

Aim 4: Assess whether a targeted ‘serious games’ based cognitive training (CT) paradigm can lead to improvements in cognitive function in individuals with SCI.

University of Adelaide R21010 – commenced 19 January 2022

Research Team: Dr Matthew Baldock, Associate Professor Jeremy Woolley Dr Lisa Wundersitz and Ms Sally Edwards.

There are two main objectives of this project.

First, to determine the prevalence of the use of alcohol and drugs, including prescription medications, prior to involvement in road crashes requiring hospitalisation, and, second, to develop a possible methodology for determining the prevalence of the use of alcohol and drugs, including prescription medications, following involvement in crashes. The first objective will be achieved through analysis of a database of drivers, riders and pedestrians admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital following a road crash, and of a database of road crashes investigated at the scene by CASR.

The second objective will involve a literature review and the development of methodologies for two potential future projects. These are using CASR's access to medical records for those admitted to the RAH following a crash to allow for follow-up interviews with crash participants to enquire about post-crash alcohol and drug use and conducting follow-up interviews 12 months after the crash with crash participants interviewed as part of CASR's in-depth crash investigation program. A large proportion of LSA participants have been involved in road crashes so examining the alcohol and drug use of people seriously injured in road crashes is likely to be indicative of alcohol and drug use by LSA participants. This would therefore address the LSA research priority #2: Usage of prescribed and non-prescribed medications and alcohol among the LSA participants pre- and post-accident.

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) GA00093 – commenced 11/09/2019

Research Team: Dr Ryan O’Hare Doig, Professor Brian Freeman, Dr Marcalee Alexander and Dr Ruth Marshal.

This project aims to provide high quality evidence around sexual health following spinal cord injury (SCI), which is an area with limited research and is inadequately addressed in current practice.

Individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) often report diminished sexual satisfaction and activity after injury, the psychological impacts of which have been demonstrated in previous research.

In order to develop successful treatment strategies, it is imperative to understand the biological mechanisms associated with the spectrum of sexual dysfunction that may occur following a spinal cord injury (SCI).

This research uses functional resonance imaging (fMRI) to provide a quantitative, objective tool to explore sexual functioning, which is a major benefit to participants and researchers, providing more in depth and accurate data rather than the subjective tools that are currently used.

The study will compare the spinal cord responses in able-bodied people with those of people with a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) to further explain the roles of the human spinal cord in mediating sexual responses.

The University of Adelaide GA00102 – commenced 1/04/2019

Research Team: Dr Diana Dorstyn, Associate Professor Rachel Roberts and Mr Peter Stewart.

This project aims to provide an evidence-based pathway to employment for individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) to help develop effective employment support services.

It builds on a pilot study previously conducted by the research team, which developed an online resource ‘Work and SCI’ for adults with traumatic spinal cord injury.

The resource will be supplemented with personalised counselling based on the principles of effective vocational rehabilitation, to be delivered by The Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of South Australia (PQSA).

A sample group of people with a spinal cord injury (SCI) will be provided with access to the ‘Work and SCI’ modules over a two month period, with half the sample also receiving assessment and coaching by a certified vocational counsellor.

Participants will be assessed using established measures, and the comparative effectiveness of the counselling and ‘Work and SCI’ interventions will be evaluated by comparing group changes in job-seeking behaviour.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network GA00046 – commenced 3/08/2017

Research Team: Dr Ruth Marshall, Associate Professor Jillian Clark, Professor James Middleton, Professor Alan Cass, Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath, Ms Denzil O’Brien and Elizabeth Dallaway.

This research consists of three complementary population-based studies.

The work involves the identification of demographics, injury causation and characteristics that impact functioning, health and wellbeing of people with spinal cord injury, and how these vary between Australian states and between countries.

The research aims to address the deficit of knowledge in relation to the ‘lived experience’ of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and provides insight how age, race and socioeconomic status influence the quality of life and broader health outcomes of these individuals.

The proposed outcomes of these studies will provide a greater understanding of the challenges faced and needs required for such spinal cord injury (SCI) individuals.

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) GA00044 – commenced 3/07/2017

Research Team: Dr Ryan O’Hare Doig, Associate Professor Jillian Clark, Professor Brain Freeman, Mr James Swift, Professor Dylan Bartholomeusz, Mr Ben Crouch and Ms Kari Hughes.

Project Discovery is clinical trial study for people living with spinal cord injury to help determine a new diagnostic and long-term prognostic approach to the care of people with these injuries.

The symptoms of spinal cord injury vary widely based on the location and severity of the damage along the spinal cord. As a result, prognosis also ranges considerably from full recovery in rare cases to permanent tetraplegia or paraplegia.

The study aims to address the lack of tools presently available to adequately predict prognosis of spinal cord injury (SCI) to guide treatment and rehabilitation efforts by trialling Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans. The outcome of this analyses will ultimately result in a more precise and personalised approach to spinal cord injury patients.

Skin Tissue Engineering Pty Ltd GA00061 – commenced 01/09/2016

Research Team: Dr John Greenwood, Miss Bronwyn Dearman and Miss Amy Li.

‘Skin’ is a biotech company focused on delivering a paradigm shift in burn and wound care. The tissue culturing process will see the growth and production of a cultured composite skin (CCS) replacing the need for skin grafting.

The CCS process will replace skin grafts, the epidermal and dermal cells are first isolated from a small graft and then cultured before being seeded and grown in a biodegradable matrix which produces a bilayer skin ready for grafting over burn wounds for a 28 day period. The result of this following the 28 day cycle, will enable enough cultured composite skin (CCS) to cover an entire adult.

Page last updated: 30 September 2020