Injury Prevention

RESEARCH CENTRE

The Injury Prevention Research Centre undertakes research that aims to prevent injuries. Injury is the leading cause of death for people under 45 years of age. Injuries to the nervous system, such as brain and spinal cord injuries, are particularly devastating – often leading to lifelong disability.

Chief Investigators

Research Projects

Injuries in car crashes
Road accidents are the commonest cause of serious injury to humans. Research is aimed at understanding how and why these injuries occur, and developing effective preventative strategies. This research program encompasses studies of injury mechanisms in vehicle occupants, and design and evaluation of countermeasures to injury, including public health, educational and engineering solutions.

Falls Injury
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in persons aged 65 years and over and account for four percent of all hospital admissions in this age-group. The falls injury program undertakes research into the mechanisms of falls, and is developing methods to predict falls risk and prevent falls and injury

Pain after injury
Many trauma patients suffer from ongoing pain as a result of their injuries. Studies are being undertaken to determine how this pain arises from injury, and how it can be treated. This will lead to improved pain management guidelines.

 

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Abdominal Functional Electrical Stimulation for Orthostatic Hypotension in Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in the loss of function to not only voluntary motor control, but also to the regulatory systems that control bodily processes. Orthostatic (postural) hypotension (OH) is a common clinical feature in SCI patients, affecting up to 73% of patients with cervical spine and upper thoracic spine injuries during mobilisation and postural changes. This often results in symptoms of dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue and confusion, in turn limiting individual participation in physical rehabilitation and restricting progress towards regaining function and independence. Therapeutic interventions are centred around ameliorating symptoms of OH; however, options for patients remain limited. Non-pharmacological treatments have had little success at treating hypotension in the long-term, while pharmacological interventions are used only when necessary as they may contribute to hypertension and even worsen episodes of autonomic dysreflexia, a life-threatening condition. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is one of the only interventions that has been shown to display some benefit in improving OH. Recently, stimulation of the lower limbs has been shown to acutely increase blood pressure in patients with SCI. Our recent projects have involved the use of FES applied over the abdominal muscles, termed abdominal FES, for SCI patients at risk of respiratory complications with promising results. As this same population is at risk of orthostatic hypotension, this study aims to determine whether abdominal stimulation can also be used to help this condition. Based on our previous research, we believe that abdominal FES will increase blood pressure acutely during an orthostatic challenge in individuals with acute spinal cord injury, allowing for a longer time spent in a standing position. This will facilitate more effective rehabilitation, therefore improving quality of life and decreasing associated medical complications.
PROJECT