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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.

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.

MUGgLE Study: Muscle growth in children and adolescents with and without cerebral palsy

The MUGgLE study is a research study on growth of muscles and tendons during childhood development. We are studying muscles of typically developing children and of children with cerebral palsy using MRI scans of the lower legs.

The MUGgLE study is a collaboration between researchers at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, University of New South Wales and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). The study will be conducted at NeuRA’s Imaging Facility in Randwick (Sydney), Australia.

The aims of the MUGgLE study are to:

  1. describe growth-related changes in the three-dimensional architecture of leg muscles of typically developing children,
  2. compare growth-related changes in muscle architecture in children with cerebral palsy and typically developing children, and
  3. identify causes of impaired muscle growth in children with cerebral palsy.

Infants aged 0 to 3 months and children aged 5 to 14 can participate in the MUGgLE study. We are looking for children with and without cerebral palsy.

Find out more on the study website: https://muggle.neura.edu.au

The INTERGENERATION INTEGRATION project; supporting the building of intergenerational programs withi

There is increasing evidence to show that intergenerational interaction is beneficial for older adults and children alike. Higher levels of social engagement in older adults have been associated with better physical and cognitive function and wellbeing. Time spent with older adults has been linked to enhanced social and personal skills in children. However, familial intergenerational interaction is falling despite rising numbers of community-based older adults. In Australia alone approximately 15% of the total population are aged 65 and over, up from 5% in the 1920s and estimated to increase to 22% (8.8 million) in the next 30-40 years. Employment and economic factors drive greater geographical mobility of working age adults, resulting in increased separation from older family members with 40% of Australians aged 75-84 and 51% of those 85 and over living alone. Recent television series in Australia and the United Kingdom, have raised awareness and enthusiasm for intergenerational activities as an opportunity that could be realised within communities. However, while intergenerational programs are gaining in popularity globally, evidence for best practice in this area remains scarce.

 

This project will build and pilot a novel, evidence-based, co-designed Intergenerational Program Development toolkit targeted for community use and tailored to an Australian environment.

Driving Longer and Better: Evidenced-based interventions for older drivers

Older drivers have relatively high crash rates and are increasing in number. We aim to evaluate the relative effectiveness and cost-efficiency of interventions for older drivers. A randomized controlled trial comparing driving lessons, personalized feedback on driving skill, and a groupbased road-rules refresher course will be conducted. If effective, interventions will improve driving safety, reduce costs associated with crashes,

and maintain social participation.