Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Notre Dame partnership aids critical research into cerebral palsy

Scholarship recipient Cathy Morgan and
Head Researcher with Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Dr Iona Novak

17 March 2011

A research partnership between Cerebral Palsy Alliance and The University of Notre Dame Australia is giving PhD student Cathy Morgan the chance to study a critically important area of cerebral palsy (CP).

Mrs. Morgan has been awarded a scholarship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded by the Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Balnaves Foundation.  Her research focuses on improving the movement skills of young infants with cerebral palsy, and has the potential to have long-term benefits for children with the condition.

Mrs. Morgan said her research aims to improve understanding about the effectiveness of newer interventions which assist older children’s movement, by applying them to infants.

“There is a growing body of research which indicates that the first two years of life is a critical window of brain development,” Mrs. Morgan said. “The infant brain has great capacity to develop and change, so it’s important that motor problems are identified and treated early.

“Newer evidence-based approaches using natural learning environments and family goals, which are effective in older children, have not yet been applied to or studied in infants. This research aims to test the effectiveness of goal-directed training and enriched environments for infants with CP.”

Head Researcher with Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Dr Iona Novak, said the PhD project was of critical importance and would not have been achievable without the partnership with Notre Dame.

“The relationship between Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Notre Dame has been strategic in helping us achieve our goal to increase research capacity into cerebral palsy,” Dr Novak said. “Thanks to this partnership a number of new post graduate students, such as Mrs. Morgan, have chosen cerebral palsy for their doctoral and honors studies. This is a great achievement.”

Director of the Office of Research at Notre Dame, Associate Professor Peter Dean, said Mrs. Morgan’s project underpins the importance of research collaboration; as demonstrated by the involvement of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the University and NHMRC.

“This special relationship reflects the University’s commitment to supporting high quality research and building partnerships in the health sector.”

The partnership between the two institutions started in 2009 when Cerebral Palsy Alliance moved its research hub to the University’s Darlinghurst site. The affiliation has since grown with continuing research projects and the appointment of Professor Nadia Badawi as the Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Cerebral Palsy.

Media Contact: Moira Saunders (+61) 2 8204 4407


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