Neurotrauma Research Program – Insurance Commission of Western Australia
The award of $200,000 funding from the Insurance Commission of Western Australia will allow two Perth research groups to embark on projects aimed at improving the rehabilitation and independence of people with acquired traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries.
“A music based mobile gait entrainment instrument for stroke rehabilitation” was a successful proposal from a collaborative and multi-disciplinary group led by A/Prof Michael Rosenberg (UWA). Associate investigators are Dr Ann-Maree Vallence (Murdoch University), Dr Jennifer Rodger (UWA), A/Prof Chris Etherton-Beer (RPH/UWA) and Dr Alex Shaykevich (UWA).
The project focuses on stimulating locomotory movement in people with acquired brain injuries by using an innovative mobile application that plays music and triggers pressure sensors on the foot.
A/Prof Rosenberg explains: “Gait is the primary motor function that enables mobility and independent living amongst patients with acquired traumatic brain injuries, and is a prioritized focus of many rehabilitation programs. Rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) is a clinically proven intervention that exploits music’s influence on motor control. Over the last 12 months, through NRP funding, we have developed a tailored music and real-time feedback system based on mobile technology (GotRhythm). The system has been adapted to include gait through the development of wireless plantar pressure sensors. Here, we aim to test the efficacy of the gait system within GotRhythm to improve neurological and functional outcomes of patients with neurotrauma injuries.
The second project, “Pre-clinical assessment of poly-arginine peptide R18D as a therapeutic to reduce central nervous system injury following neurotrauma”, involves researchers from the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and UWA under the leadership of A/Prof Bruno Meloni, together with Prof Neville Knuckey, A/Prof Stuart Hodgetts and Dr Jane Cross.
The team has demonstrated previously that small peptides containing the amino acid arginine can protect the brain’s neural pathways following brain injury. This project will examine the therapeutic neuroprotective potential of a poly-arginine peptide, R18D, to reduce brain damage in neurotrauma-related injuries, namely global cerebral ischaemia, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
These two projects are the first to be funded as part of a three-year research partnership between the Neurotrauma Research Program and the Insurance Commission of Western Australia that aims to lower the costs of car crash injuries through improving the rehabilitation and treatment of people catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents.