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.
Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant
Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.
This series of studies will investigate:
The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).
This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation.
It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales and NeuRA are looking for your input to help identify in-vehicle measures that show us when driving performance is decreasing in the cognitively declining population.
The MemTech study aims to identify cost-effective and non-intrusive methods of monitoring driving safety for drivers as they age, or experience neurodegenerative conditions. Current approaches to managing road safety for drivers experiencing cognitive decline are reliant on regular reviews and expensive and stressful road tests. An in-car device that can accurately measure changes in safety during a person’s everyday driving trips, could help drivers and health professionals better manage independence as well as safety. In this study, we will look at measures obtained by devices like dashboard cameras and GPS data loggers, and examine their sensitivity to changes in driving behaviours over a 6-month period.
Volunteers need to be 60 years or older, hold a current drivers licence and drive a minimum of 1 hour a week.
If you would like to take part in this research study, please contact
Ms Abirami Raveendran