Award-winning research breathes life into pneumonia physio

Lisa van der Lee (right) pictured with her PhD supervisor, Dr Anne-Marie Hill. Lisa was the recipient of the APA Cardiorespiratory New Researcher Award.
Absent: Associate Professor Shane Patman, primary PhD supervisor.

23 October 2015

A research project exploring how to improve the quality of life for adults with community acquired pneumonia through ‘best practise’ has earned PhD candidate, Lisa van der Lee, a national award from the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA).

Lisa, who is undertaking her studies through The University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Physiotherapy, Fremantle, received the APA Cardiorespiratory New Researcher Award in October 2015. The award is given to the best presentation at a conference by a first-time author.

Community acquired pneumonia, which is severe enough to require intensive care for breathing support through a ventilator, is common globally and more prevalent in adults over 65-years-old. Individuals with chronic disease such as respiratory disease, heart disease and diabetes are also at risk.

Lisa, a specialist in critical care physiotherapy for more than 10 years, says she is passionate about the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered a critical illness.

“Determining a standard of respiratory physiotherapy care for these critically ill patients is important to ensure that patient outcomes are being optimised. It also provides the groundwork for future clinical trials to determine the optimal dosage of therapy,” Lisa said.

“Physiotherapy plays an important role in enhancing the patient’s lung function and assisting them to regain the ability to get out of bed, stand up and walk again after days or weeks of bed rest.

“This therapy plays a big part in the patient’s recovery journey – most notably in the quality of life they have after discharge from hospital.”

Professor Peter Hamer, Dean of the School of Physiotherapy, said Lisa’s project and contribution demonstrates how questions conceived in the clinical area can provide evidence to translate or change practice.

“Lisa deserves great credit to have achieved this award in that it recognises the transition from being an outstanding clinician to recognition as a significant new researcher contributing to the profession all with the intent to improve patient care,” Professor Hamer said.

Lisa is due to complete her PhD in 2018.

As Notre Dame is a direct entry university, you can still apply for 2016. Apply direct –

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;