NeuRA Magazine #27

BETTER LABELLING ON CHILD CAR RESTRAINTS COULD INCREASE CORRECT USE BY 27%

A recent study by Associate Professor Julie Brown has revealed research statistics that show improved design of child restraint instructional materials could increase correct use by up to 27 per cent, saving lives and preventing injuries.

“Research undertaken at NeuRA identified a critical relationship between comprehension of instructional materials and errors in use,” said Associate Professor Brown. In a survey of 400 Australian parents, 90 per cent reported that they had read the instructions supplied with the restraints, yet high rates of incorrect use continue.

“This suggested instructional materials in their current form may not be effective in communicating how to use restraints correctly, and that we may need to take a new approach to how instructional materials are regulated in product standards,” said Associate Professor Brown.

As part of the study, researchers at NeuRA looked at the range of instructional materials provided by manufacturers of restraints. Following their review, Associate Professor Brown worked in collaboration with parents and users to develop a new set of prototype instructional materials for using child car restraints.

Using the new consumer-driven instructional materials 27 per cent more people attained correct use, and comprehension was 42 per cent higher. Injury is the leading cause of death and hospitalisation in Australia of children aged over one year.

Associate Professor Brown and her team at NeuRA are now taking this study from the lab to the real world to make child restraints in cars safer and more effective.

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Abdominal muscle stimulation to improve bowel function in spinal cord injury

Bowel complications, resulting from impaired bowel function, are common for people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). As a result, people with a SCI have high rates of bowel related illness, even compared with those with other neurological disorders. This includes high rates of abdominal pain, constipation, faecal incontinence and bloating. These problems lower the quality of life of people with a SCI and place a financial burden on the health system. A treatment that improves bowel function for people with a SCI should reduce illness, improve quality of life and lead to a large cost saving for health care providers. Bowel problems have traditionally been managed with manual and pharmacological interventions, such as digital rectal stimulation, enemas, and suppositories. These solutions are usually only partially effective, highlighting the need for improved interventions. The abdominal muscles are one of the major muscle groups used during defecation. Training the abdominal muscles should improve bowel function by increasing abdominal pressure. During our previous Abdominal FES research with people with a SCI, we observed that Abdominal FES appeared to lead to more consistent and effective bowel motion. However, this evidence remains anecdotal. As such, we are going to undertake a large randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of Abdominal FES to improve the bowel function of people with a SCI. This study will make use of a novel measurement system (SmartPill, Medtronic) that can be swallowed to measure whole gut and colonic transit time. We will also assess whether Abdominal FES can change constipation-related quality of life and the use of laxatives and manual procedures, as well as the frequency of defecation and the time taken. A positive outcome from this study is likely to lead to the rapid clinical translation of this technology for people living with a SCI.
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