The Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre (FBIRC), directed by Professor Stephen Lord, conducts research into understanding human balance, fall risk factors and strategies for prevention of falls in older people. Falls are a major contributor to the burden of disease in older people and a major public health problem and clinical groups with balance disorders. Maintaining balance involves highly complex processing of peripheral sensory information and precise coordination of motor responses. Falls result from the complex interplay between impairments in these physiological functions, pathological ageing and the environments we negotiate on a daily basis. There can be myriad contributing factors, including drugs affecting cognitive function, deconditioning due to inactivity; disease processes such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke; and syndromes such as dementia and delirium. One of the most serious consequences of a fall is a hip fracture. There are approximately 20,000 hip fractures in Australia every year. A hip fracture is a devastating injury for an older person and for many results in pain and lasting disability which directly impacts on the ability to live independently. For some a hip fracture can result in a move to residential care or death. Preventing falls and effectively managing fall related injury is a key research and health priority. The Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre (FBIRC) was established in 2014 and brings together complimentary research of three senior research groups at NeuRA led by Professor Stephen Lord, Professor Jacqueline Close and Dr Kim Delbaere addressing fall and fall injury prevention and management. The overarching aims of the FBIRC involve: (i) the accurate documentation of falls and fall injuries (ii) the identification of fall risk factors (iii) the development of feasible fall prevention strategies and iv) the effective management of people with a fall related injury. Our falls and injury epidemiology research uses multiple health service databases to examine predisposing factors for injurious falls and changes in patterns of fall injury over time. Our fall risk studies aim to enhance our understanding of human balance and involve investigations of sensory and motor contributions, behavioural factors as well as the contribution of disease processes to falls. Our fall prevention research incorporates components from physiotherapy, exercise physiology, psychology, brain imaging and computer software engineering. These studies comprise: (i) large randomised controlled trials in people at increased risk of falls (i.e. those with dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis), (ii) projects exploring technology-based solutions to prevent falls in older people, and (iii) projects examining interrelationships among physical, psychological and cognitive factors in older people. Our effective management of people with a fall related injury focuses predominantly on hip fracture care and includes work on how to best implement effective care in hospitals across Australia. Specific projects are outlined in the NeuRA Group Leader pages of the Senior Researchers. Staff Professor Stephen Lord Professor Jacqueline Close Dr Kim Delbaere
ForeFront is a collaborative research group in Australia dedicated to the study of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neurone disease (MND). FTD and MND are a group of disorders identified by distinct clinical signs and symptoms, and/or specific brain pathologies. These disorders are generally rapidly progressing, cause behavioural, language or motor deficits (often in combination), and together are a leading cause of dementia, particularly in people under 65 years of age. ForeFront is an amalgamate of two government funded research groups: Frontotemporal dementia and motor neurodegenerative syndromes This National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) program brings together a team of internationally recognised leaders in clinical, pathological and biological research on FTD and motor neurodegenerative syndromes. Individually these team leaders, along with their research staff, have made significant advances in these diseases, and this program will unify their efforts and focus on translating findings into better clinical information and intervention studies. Learn more... Memory node of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders This program investigates the cognitive systems and brain structures underlying various forms of memory, including autobiographical memory, episodic memory and semantic memory. The program uses experimental neuropsychological methods, as well as structural and functional brain imaging in patients with progressive brain pathologies such as frontotemporal dementia. Despite sustained research interest spanning 50 years, the cognitive and neural architecture of episodic and semantic memory systems and the factors that affect their optimal functions are still not fully understood.
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 Prof Lynne Bilston Prof Stephen Lord Dr Julie Brown Dr Lorimer Moseley 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.
Motor Impairment is a major cause of physical disability and includes muscle weakness and fatigue, impaired sensation and poor balance, and muscle contracture and spasticity - all of which need to work if we are to undertake the usual range of daily activities. The goals of our five-year (2014-2018), NHMRC-funded Motor Impairment Program are to better understand the pathophysiology of motor impairment, to implement interventions and to drive enhanced clinical practice.