Our response to COVID-19

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Projects

Each tile includes a summary and discussion of the aims of current research projects at NeuRA.

If you’d like to be involved as a participant, please click here to find out about volunteering for research.

If you are a student and would like to conduct a similar project with one of our supervisors, click here to find out about studying at NeuRA.

The No Worries Trial

Researchers: Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, Nell-Norman-Nott, Dr Negin Hesam- Shariati, Dr. Chelsey Wilks (University of Washington).

Emerging evidence has shown that negative emotional states play a key role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. The No Worries Trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a four-week internet-delivered Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills training to help chronic pain sufferers cope with painful, fearful, worrisome, anxious, and negative thoughts and emotions. Moreover, by having the DBT skills training online it is more accessible to those in remote communities, to those with restricted mobility, and more broadly it adds to the knowledge of internet-delivered therapies at a time when online is increasingly necessary to deliver treatment due to COVID-19.

MEMOIR – a clinical trial for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a serious health condition, affecting approximately 20,000 people in Australia. It is characterised by severe burning, stinging and stabbing pain. People with CRPS are unable to use their painful limb and their ability to work or participate in normal social activities is severely restricted. Currently, there are no effective treatments for CRPS.

A vast body of research has demonstrated changes in brain processes in CRPS. The MEMOIR trial will investigate the effectiveness of two novel brain-directed treatments to reduce pain and improve function in people with CRPS.

MEMOIR consolidates the expertise of scientists and clinicians from NeuRA (A/Prof James McAuley, A/Prof Sylvia Gustin, Mr Michael Ferraro), the University of South Australia (Prof Lorimer Moseley), the University of Sydney (Prof Andrew McLachlan), the University of Notre Dame Australia Fremantle (Prof Benedict Wand, Prof Eric Visser), the University of Exeter (Prof Sallie Lamb), Brunel University London (Dr Neil O’Connell) and the University of Oxford (Dr Hopin Lee).

Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the commencement of MEMOIR has been delayed. Recruitment for MEMOIR will commence in September 2020.

If you are interested in being contacted about our CRPS research, please leave your details below and we will be in touch once recruitment begins. 

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SafeTrip – step training to reduce falls in older adults

The SafeTrip study aims to investigate how older adults learn protective stepping skills to avoid falls when encountering obstacles, trips and slips. With NeuRA’s cutting-edge motion capture system and other wearable devices, the SafeTrip team will be able to observe and analyse movement and muscle activity during reactive or proactive step training.

 

The SafeTrip team are looking for older adults aged 65 years and over who:

  • Have not been advised by a medical practitioner not to exercise
  • Have no existing conditions that may prevent them from exercising (e.g. severe pain, heel ulcers, exercise intolerance)
  • Have no neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, etc.)
  • Have no history of fracture(s) or joint replacement(s) in the past 12 months
  • Are able to walk 500m comfortably without mobility aids or rest
  • Are active (i.e. exercising for at least 60mins/week) and living independently in the Sydney metropolitan community
  • Are not currently participating in any other falls prevention research studies

 

Eligible candidates will be invited to NeuRA for baseline assessment before being randomly allocated to either the reactive or proactive step training programs. All participants will undertake at least 3 training sessions, however, depending on their allocation, may be invited to undertake 1-3 additional training sessions throughout the year.

For more information or to get involved, please contact the SafeTrip team on 02 9399 1067 or safetrip-study@neura.edu.au. HC190952

 

Stuttering and its impact on wellbeing in children and their caregivers

Dr Gatt is co-leading a project with speech pathologist Verity MacMillan that focuses on stuttering and its impact on wellbeing in children and their caregivers. The mental health and wellbeing of children who stutter and their caregivers will be evaluated pre-treatment, mid-treatment and post-treatment to evaluate changes in response to stuttering treatment. We will determine the impact that stuttering has on mental wellbeing from the outset, as well as the factors that determine an optimal and faster treatment response.

The investigators on this project include Verity MacMillan (SWSLHD) and Justine Gatt as Co-Leads (NeuRA and UNSW, Australia), and Stacey Sheedy (SWSLHD), Wendy Lloyd (SWSLHD) and Haeme Park (NeuRA and UNSW, Australia) as co-investigators.

This project is currently supported by a SWSLHD Clinical Knowledge Exchange Seed Funding Initiative.

Instagram usage and mental wellbeing in adolescents and young adults

Dr Gatt is leading a project that focuses on observing the impact of Instagram usage on mental health and wellbeing in adolescents and young adults in Australia and the USA. Participants will be compared at multiple time points over a 6-month period in order to compare non-linear patterns over time. This project will determine the positive and negative impact of Instagram use on mental health and wellbeing over time, how it varies according to various factors such as age, gender and country of origin, as well as the factors that might modulate its impact such as usage patterns, life events and connectedness.

The investigators on this project include Dr Justine Gatt as CIA and Dr Haeme Park as CIB (NeuRA and UNSW, Australia). Collaborative organisations involved in this project include the Qualtrics Research Team.

This project is currently supported by an Instagram Wellbeing Research Grant.

Measuring and promoting wellbeing in different mental health settings

Dr Gatt is leading a project that aims to confirm the utility of measuring wellbeing in various mental health settings, and to develop wellbeing programs using different platforms. Dr Justine Gatt has developed the composite wellbeing scale, COMPAS-W, which measures both subjective wellbeing (hedonia) and psychological wellbeing (eudaimonia). This project will test the practicality and value of measuring mental wellbeing using the COMPAS-W Wellbeing Scale in multiple settings including hospital in-patients, hospital staff, and out-patients visiting mental health clinics. This project will also develop and/or evaluate wellbeing-focused interventions including workplace wellbeing group programs and an online smartphone wellbeing app.

Dr Justine Gatt is the Lead Investigator on this project. Collaborating organisations and supporting partners include SESLHD area health service, Prince of Wales Hospital, headspace and Project Factory.

This project is currently supported by a Mindgardens Neuroscience Network Grant.