Current LSA Research Programs:

Quality in Brain Injury Rehabilitation – UniSA

The Sansom Institute for Health Research will study how the quality of brain injury rehabilitation is understood by people living with brain injury, their families and carers, and the practitioners who provide it.

The research will report evidence from different countries and contexts, and recommend options for evaluating and measuring quality in brain injury rehabilitation in South Australia.

The outcomes of the project will enable consumers and practitioners to better recognise quality when making rehabilitation choices, and help to determine if high quality rehabilitation is being applied.

The project team includes Associate Professor Susan Hillier, Dr Julie Luker and Ms Carolyn Murray, all from the Health Sciences Division at the University of South Australia.

University of South Australia

Flinders University

Acquired Brain Injury in South Australian Prisons – Flinders University

The Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and Flinders University will investigate the number of new admissions to prisons in South Australia who have a history or risk factors for acquired brain injury (ABI).

The study, led by Dr Maggie Killington from Flinders University, will investigate the neurobehavioural implications of people in the prison system living with ABI, and the additional effects of those released from prison and the reincarceration rates for prisioners with a history of ABI.

The project aims to determine whether people with a history of ABI are over-represented in the prison system, and whether a history of ABI affects their time in prison and ability to return to the community.

Supporting Kids with Brain Injury – SA Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service and Flinders University

Identifying the gaps in resources and tools for supporting and educating children about brain injury is the focus of a study by SA Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service and Flinders University.

The project will investigate the perspective from children and families when a family member has brain injury and understand if children perceive whether their needs were met.

The research findings will ultimately form the basis of developing an education program or tool box to be used in sub-acute brain injury rehabilitation.

The project will be undertaken by Dr Maggie Killington from Flinders University, and supported by researchers Kate Dawes, Ashley Belcher and Dr Maayken van den Berg.

Flinders University

PQSA logo

Regional spinal cord injury peer network – PQSA

PQSA will develop a program of volunteer Peer Network Facilitators across regional South Australia to foster and build self-efficacy and resilience for people living with spinal cord injury in regional areas of South Australia.

Through the program, a project officer will be appointed to work with clinicians and funding bodies to identify potential clients and build and expand on existing informal networks, including social networks, in the region.

Peer Network Facilitators will be established in the South East, Eyre Peninsula, Iron Triangle, Riverland/Murray Mallee, the Yorke Peninsula and Clare Valley.

Immersion Therapy for Active Recovery – Determined2

The team at Determined2 will undertake research to create a standardised plan for using Immersion Therapy in the rehabilitation of brain and physical injuries.

The project will engage with medical and allied health professionals to determine measurable outcomes and create a high-quality brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation program that demonstrates enhanced brain plasticity.

Determined2’s project aims to increase life opportunities, including choice and control for participants, and increase their adjustment to injury.

Determined2 logo

Flinders University

Mobility Factors Following Traumatic Brain Injury – Flinders University

A team at Flinders University will research the specific mobility factors that influence participation in community activities for people living with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The project team will recruit 40 participants living with TBI and collect data relating to walking and balance activity, and relate this data to community participation.

The findings will provide greater knowledge into specific mobility factors that influence participation in community activities and will likely lead to publishable knowledge to inform the wider community.

The project team includes Associate Professor James McLoughlin, Nicole Simmons and Dr Chris Barr.

Clickability Pilot Project

Clickability will develop a pilot for LSS participants to enable them, their families and carers to have greater online access to LSA services and service providers.

The pilot will be provided to LSA in four stages, including an online directory of services, developing resources, and training and support to ensure participants are actively engaged in decision-making.

Aims of the pilot include supporting greater choice and control for LSS participants, and enabling a greater ability to provide reviews of service providers.

Clickability logo

Flinders University

A family-directed Approach to Supporting Brain Injury – Flinders University

A family-directed approach to supporting people living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the focus of a research project led by Dr Michelle Bellon from the Flinders University.

The project will look at the feasibility of a family-directed behaviour support training program for family caregivers, rather than solely depending on the current service model to meet neurobehavioural support needs.

The primary aims of the project include increasing the quality of life and community participation of people living with TBI and their families, and increasing the capacity of family caregivers to understand behaviour change.

Effective Driver Rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injury – Flinders University

Flinders University will research and identify the most effective rehabilitation approach for returning to driving following traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The project will assess and evaluate participants as they participate in a variety of training methods to determine which intervention approach is most effective.

Participants will use a driving similar, the first to be available for clinical practice in South Australia, throughout the study. The results will compare the effectiveness of the driving simulator compared to routine driving lessons to inform clinical practice.

The project team will be led by Associate Professor Stacey George from the Flinders University.

Flinders University

University of South Australia

Dignity of Risk for People Living with Brain Injury – University of SA

The University of South Australia will undertake a project to better understand how health professionals manage the dignity of risk for people living with brain injury.

The project will address common restrictions this group faces to achieve meaningful participation in the community, and understand how occupational therapists and physiotherapists understand risk, balance community safety and support personal growth.

The study aims to address the issue of how to enable people living with brain injury to live a full life, including having the dignity to take risks that are part of everyday life.

The University of South Australia’s senior lecturer Dr Mandy Stanley will lead the project team.

Postural Alignment and Mobility Impairment After ABI – Hampstead

A project team at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre will research postural alignment and severe mobility impairment after acquired brain injury (ABI).

Research will determine changes in mobility, the relationship between change in postural alignment and change in mobility skills and the relationships between quality of life and mobility for people living with severe ABI.

The study will observe 12 adults living with ABI to explore the personal significance of mobility skills and study posture using state-of-the-art 3D motion analysis technology, to determine if improving posture is related to improving mobility.

The project team includes Mr Simon Mills (Principal Investigator), Dr Shylie Mackintosh, Dr Michelle McDonnell and Dr Domic Thewlis.

Spinal Cord Research

PQSA logo

Discovering the Power in People with Spinal Cord Injury – PQSA

Discovering the Power in Me (DPM) is a project aimed at developing the inner strength and resilience of people living with spinal cord injury.

PQSA will use the grant to recruit two additional accredited DPM facilitators to deliver five workshops for 40–50 participants, to be held across metropolitan and regional South Australia.

DPM not only uses the best principles of applied cognitive psychology to provide people with disabilities and their families with tools to develop the inner strength and resilience to re-assert control over their lives, but also aims to increase engagement in the community and improves wellbeing and mental health.

Consistency of Care for People with TBI – SALHN

The Southern Adelaide Health Network will undertake a study to provide an evidence-based and standardised approach to deescalating challenging behaviours in people living with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The outcomes will include the identification of best practice care for behavioural management, publication of an evidence-based protocol to standardize care and creation of a fit-for-purpose database to enable tracking of patient recovery following TBI.

The project will be led by Felicity Jenkinson, Senior Occupational Therapist Neurosurgery.

Southern Adelaide Health Network logo

Women’s and Children’s Hospital Adelaide logo

Improving Outcomes for Children with Brain Injury – WCHN

A project team at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital will address the support needs of children with mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury from vehicle-related accidents.

The project will identify children who are at risk of or exhibiting signs of brain injury and implement a short-term, goal-oriented rehabilitation program, which will include interventions delivered by a multi-disciplinary team.

Outcomes will include improved early detection of mild-to-moderate brain injury in children, resulting in a more supported return to school and community life, and a reduction in carer-related stress and burden.

The project team includes Dr James Rice, Associate Professor Ray Russo, Natalie Hood and Heather Baron.

Advanced Technology in Vehicle Modifications – UniSA

A study by the University of South Australia will research the effectiveness of vehicle modifications for people with disability.

The project will determine the cost effectiveness and social benefits of provision of vehicle modification to people with disability, using the Social Return on Investment methodology.

Results of the project will enable a greater understanding of the impact and outcomes of investment in the provision of complex vehicle modifications from the perspective of people living with disability, their families, vehicle modifiers, driving instructors, employers and health practitioners.

The project team includes Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Associate Professor Stacey George, Dr Angela Berndt and Susan Gilbert-Hunt.

University of South Australia

Stretchy Tech – Nothing Out Of Reach logo

Optimal Training for Service Providers – Stretchy Tech

Stretchy Tech has recognised the need for research into specialist training in assistive technology required for service providers and support staff in the disability sector.

The project includes an action-research approach to identifying the best form and intensity of training requirements for service coordinators, planners and support workers to enable them to assist people with disability to use assistive technology, including smartphones and tablets.

The research project will not only deepen the understanding of how to best support service planning and support workers, but also enable people living with acquired brain injury or spinal cord injury to have access to the good things in life through technology.

Improving Long-term Care for Spinal Cord Injury – SAHMRI

A study involving 50 people living with spinal cord injury will help to determine a new diagnostic and long-term prognostic approach to the care of people with these injuries.

The study by South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute will conduct PET scans and two-year quarterly reviews on the participants and collect detailed analysis to ultimately result in a more precise and personalised approach to spinal cord injury patients.

The research team includes Professor Julio Licinio, Professor Brian Freeman, Mr Prab Takhar and Dr Ryan Doig.

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute logo

Central Adelaide Local Health Network logo

Population-based Studies for Spinal Cord Injury – CALHN

The Central Adelaide Local Health Network will undertake three studies into spinal cord injury, led by Associate Professor Ruth Marshall.

The population-based studies will include the identification of demographics, injury causation and characteristics that impact functioning, health and wellbeing of people with spinal cord injury and how they vary between Australian state and between countries.

Research will also look at the ability to deliver care to community-dwelling groups including lived experienced among the Aboriginal community.

Office for the Public Advocate

The Office for the Public Advocate will produce a policy and practice framework in relation to the implementation of supported decision-making principles for people with impaired decision-making capacity.

This project will enhance an inividual’s ability to get their life chances back following an acquired brain injury.

The research team includes Ms Anne Gale, Ms Elicia White and Ms Stacey Rowse.

The Office of the Public Advocate logo

Previous LSA Research Projects:

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Neil Sachse Foundation

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), in partnership with the Neil Sachse Foundation, is studying innovative solutions to spinal cord injuries from motor vehicle accidents.

SAHMRI’s project focuses on creating an innovative biological approach to spinal cord injury and will use a cyclotron, or particle accelerator, located at SAHMRI in Adelaide.

Research will look at spinal cord inflammation, and may lead to improved scanning of affected areas, better surgical intervention and improved patient outcomes.

The research team of Prof Julio Licinio, Dr Parabjit Takhar and Prof Brian Freeman has expertise in neuroscience and imaging, radiochemistry and spinal cord injury.

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Neil Sachse Foundation logo

University of South Australia

University of South Australia

The team of researchers at the University of South Australia is looking to develop an understanding of the meaning of choice and control, as it relates to our participants.

The project will focus on people who have acquired brain injury and spinal cord injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, and will not only include the perspectives of participants but also their caregivers and families members.

Learnings of the study will help to inform practice that can help to improve the lives of our participants and ensure the best outcomes for them and their families.

The research team includes both senior experienced and early career researchers of the School of Health Sciences at the University of South Australia and includes Dr Mandy Stanley, Dr Syhlie Mackintosh, Dr Gisela van Kessel, Dr Caroline Fryer, Assoc Prof Susan Hillier and Carolyn Murray.

Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and Royal Adelaide Hospital

Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and the Royal Adelaide Hospital are studying technology available for individuals with tetraplegia, a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebrae affecting the cervical spinal cord.

Tetraplegia results in reduced motor and sensory function of the upper and lower limbs, and independent access to technology can be difficult or sometimes impossible for people living with the condition.

The research project will facilitate access to an all-in-one device, such as a tablet or smartphone, for people living Tetraplegia to explore the satisfaction and perspectives of its uses and benefits.

The research team is led by occupational therapist Kate Viner, with Dr Mandy Stanley and Hugh Stewart.

Spinal Cord Research

Flinders University

Flinders University

The Flinders University research project will look at supporting people with complex trauma injuries and their families to maximise participation through community mobility.

The project will focus on people with injuries including orthopaedic, amputee, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, who may no longer be able to drive.

The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a community mobility group intervention for these people, and their families, to positively impact health outcomes.

The research team includes Assoc Prof Stacey George, Dr Jacqui Liddle, Prof Maria Crotty and Dr Chris Barr, and is supported by a steering committee.

University of Adelaide

The research team at the University of Adelaide is looking to develop a preliminary trial of an online vocational program for adults with spinal cord injury.

The project has three aims: to examine facilitators of and barriers to workforce participation to people with spinal cord injury living in community-based housing, to examine the feasibility of online vocational rehabilitation programs, and to create a detailed picture of service delivery in vocational rehabilitation.

A key outcome of the research will address the successful long-term health and lifestyle for injured people, and help to ensure that our participants living with spinal cord injury have a robust set of tools and information to successfully transition to vocational pursuits and career development.

Unversity of Adelaide’s Dr Diana Dorstyn, lecturer in the School of Psychology, leads the team of researchers.


Brain Research

Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre

The Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre project is exploring education that addresses recognition of the signs of brain injury-related fatigue.

Dr Maggie Killington, and occupational therapists Michael Snigg and Emma Campbell, will undertake a clinical trial to investigate whether group-based education that addresses recognition of the signs of fatigue, causes of fatigue and self-management of fatigue following brain injury result in improved quality of life and self-efficacy.

The study will include 50 participants each of whom will be an inpatient in the Acquired Brain Injury unit at the Hampstead.

Julia Farr Collaboration

We are delighted to be partnering with the Julia Farr Housing Association (JFHA) on a significant home automation and assistive technology project trial.

The joint research study will identify and measure the benefits of up to 13 scheme participants to explore how integrated home technology can increase a person’s independence and dignity, enhance their wellbeing and connection to the community.

The trial will involve identifying, assessing and validating suitable technology, utilising a proven Cost Benefit Analysis approach.

Outcomes of the project will provide valuable experience and information to further inform the value of technology as part of treatment, care and support plans for participants.

Through this project, we anticipate our participants to have greater independence and mobility, improved control in their lives through a greater choice of technology options, and be active participants in the assessment and selection of technology in their lives.

The project will run through to October 2018.

Julia Farr Housing Association (JFHA)

SKIN Tissue Engineering

SKIN Tissue Engineering

During 2016 we awarded a significant grant to Adelaide-based biotechnology company SKIN Tissue Engineering to support their unique tissue culturing process.

The process can significantly help burns victims by growing large areas of new skin from a small piece of donor skin in less than a month.

The funding will support evaluation of a prototype reactor and the tissue culturing process, then the start of human trials from the middle of 2017.

The technology extracts cells from a piece of donor skin measuring just 10 square centimetres and then produces 25 square metres of skin, enough to cover the entire body, in just 28 days.

SKIN was established after the 2002 Bali bombings by Associate Professor John Greenwood and former Sturt footballer Julian Burton.