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Research into early intervention for Brain Injury proving successful at PAH

4 July 2019

A Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Speech Pathologist has led research into the effectiveness of strategy-based treatment for reading comprehension during the early rehabilitation phase for adults with acquired brain injury with all trial patients showing improvement over a six-week period.  

The study provides insight into a strategy-based treatment for reading which has not been previously investigated, resulting in the first evidence for rehabilitation patients within the first three months post injury.  

Speech Pathologist and Acquired Brain Injury Transitional Rehabilitation Service (ABITRS) Clinical Lead, Kerrin Watter, said as a clinician she felt the need to find evidence in an area where it wasn’t already available.

“Practicing at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU), I saw that the majority of funding is allocated to patients during the first six months of their treatment yet there wasn’t a lot of evidence-based research for this period of time into specific cognitive-communication treatments.

“By looking into the research base for chronic brain injury, including impacts such as learning disability, our team put together a treatment appropriate for patients in the early stages of rehabilitation focused on improving their reading comprehension,” she said.

The treatment plan was trialled on three patients early in recovery, one inpatient at BIRU at PAH and two ABITRS patients and was conducted over a six-week period.

“The treatment involves teaching clients a set of strategies to help them read and understand longer and more complex information. The strategies are practised by the patients in therapy until they master them so they can continue their learning at home,” she said.

All patients reported positive results following the treatment and have since returned home with a growing independence, including one patient who has returned to study.

It is hoped the findings from the research will be published later in the year, allowing clinicians throughout Australia to implement the treatment plan for patients with new brain injuries, not just those early in recovery.

The co-investigators for this study are Dr Emma Finch (Conjoint Research Fellow, Speech Pathology PAH and University of Qld) and Dr Anna Copley (University of Qld).

Last updated 3 October 2019
Last reviewed 4 July 2019

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