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.

Implementation of a novel exergaming system for improving balance and mobility in aged care rehabili

We propose to install the smartstep system in rehabilitation units as an enjoyable, efficient and effective method of training balance, stepping and executive functions for people attending rehabilitation. The smartstep system includes modified versions of popular videogames, to maximise adherence and target specific balance and executive functions, played using an interactive stepping mat. This work aims to implement and evaluate the use of the smartstep system in aged care rehabilitation using a randomised controlled trial, comparing changes in patient balance and mobility performance between intervention and control groups. System user satisfaction will also be evaluated from the perspective of intervention group patients and therapists. In this randomised controlled trial with usual care control, groups will be compared on validated balance and mobility performance measures.

SAFE-PD (Stepping to avoid falls events in people with Parkinson’s disease)

A randomised controlled trial to reduce the risk of falling in people with Parkinson’s disease.

View the clinical trial page for more information and to express interest in volunteering for the study.

 

Developing a digital behaviour intervention for parents to prevent falls in infants <12 months

Injury is the leading cause of death and hospitalization among Australian children.  Nationally, infants <12 months have the highest rates of death due to injury among all children and an injury hospitalisation rate of 799/100,000 population.  Falls represent the leading cause of injury hospitalisations, accounting for almost 50% of hospitalised injury in this age group and an emergency department presentation rate of 3500/100,000. Most falls among these children are from short heights (<1m), and occur in the child’s home. Around 80% of infants <12months admitted to hospital after a fall have sustained a head injury, with approximately 1/3 sustaining traumatic brain injury (TBI). Despite the widespread nature of this problem and the potential for lifelong impact, recent compilation of evidence for effective child injury prevention interventions show there is no evidence, worldwide, for any effective countermeasures. Moreover, there are currently no formal, targeted measures in place to prevent falls in infants <12 months in Australia. There is a global need to identify effective ways to reduce the burden associated with falls among this population.

As a solution, we are developing a digital intervention as a mobile app based on behaviour theory, targeting knowledge, behaviour and home environment of new parents in the first 12 months of a child’s life.

Child Development & Off-road Riding

Childhood deaths and injuries due to powered off-road vehicles used for recreation and motor sports are steadily increasing in Australia. Unlike the case for registered vehicles used on public roads, there are no legislative controls restricting the minimum age of use of powered off-road vehicles.

There have been repeated calls to restrict the use of these vehicles based on likely physical, cognitive and perceptual limitations of children as they progress through normal development. Some guidelines suggest children should not use these vehicles until a certain age, while others indicate children of different ages should use specific vehicle types. However, there has been no study of physiological, cognitive and perceptual factors and control of these vehicles by children at different stages of development. There is currently no evidence on which guidelines can be based.

This project aims to:

  1. Conducting a functional assessment of the riding task covering physical, sensory and cognitive domains
  2. Collation of existing relevant functional assessment tools and riding performance assessments
  3. Constructing an expert panel in pediatric functional assessment, and an expert panel on off road riding.
  4. Modification of existing assessment tools to match the tasks identified in the task analysis via expert consensus using the Delphi consensus method
  5. Trial of the modified assessment tools for 3 months on a group of 25 riders aged 8-13 to examine validity and reliability of the tools.

For more information, visit: https://www.neura.edu.au/clinical-trial/child-development-and-off-road-riding-a-pilot-study/

PIONEERS (Protective Innovations of New Equipment for Enhanced Rider Safety)

NeuRA is part of a multi-centre European collaborative project investigating and assessing ways to reduce fatalities and severities of injuries of motorcycles and powered two wheelers (PTWs).

This project aims to develop new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and On-Board Safety Systems, improve validation and assessment methods and increasing the usage rate of such devices. For more information, visit http://pioneers-project.eu/

Characterisation of restraint misuse among child vehicle occupants in NSW

By law every Australian child <7 years travelling in a motor vehicle must use an age-appropriate child restraint. However, the benefit of using an age appropriate restraint is severely compromised if the restraint is used incorrectly. Children who incorrectly use restraints are at a 3 fold risk of injury in a crash1. In 2008 we conducted a population-referenced observation study and estimated that 53% of children in NSW were incorrectly restrained. There is a need to repeat this observation study to allow more current population estimates.

Our previous research indicated variations in error rates with different restraint designs2 but the specific design features associated with the lowest propensity for incorrect use remains unknown. Furthermore, our recent research3 suggests ergonomic features impacting a child in a restraint are likely to be essential to maintaining correct use through a journey, but this has not been studied. The most important ergonomic features for correct use therefore remain unknown.

The aim of this study is (i) to determine restraint features associated with the lowest propensity for errors and (ii) to obtain up-to-date population estimates of errors in restraint use. We will achieve these aims through an observational analysis of children in cars to examine how restraint design features influence usage errors in a population representative sample.