Three of our researchers have been awarded an Emerging Researcher Grant from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. This award allows early career researchers to support a small-scale project of their own design, offering them the chance to complete their research, show proof of a concept and build capacity within their desired field. Kelsie Boulton, Eleni Demetriou and Natalie Phillips were three of the seven who received the grant from 350 applicants.
While all three work individually, their combined research will identify, address and deliver support for challenges across the lifespan.
Both Eleni's and Natalie's research relates to the importance of executive function. Executive functioning skills are essential for us to achieve day-to-day goals and make a meaningful contribution to society. Eleni will gather preliminary information about executive function in adults with Cerebral Palsy and how that relates to motor control function. Natalie is looking at early detection of executive function in infants, with the hope of identifying and intervening at critical periods of brain development.
Kelsie is aiming to extend her work on neurodevelopmental conditions by assessing the diverse needs of children with Cerebral Palsy, in order to develop a broad pathway response that supports the children's needs and supplements current care pathways beyond the initial diagnosis.
The researchers' collaborative approach also extends across organisations, as they are joined by a fellow early career researcher from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Anna Te Velde. Anna's research aims to apply neurodevelopmental therapy as an early intervention technique. Anna says that formal diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy currently takes place at eight months, but if we were able to diagnose at four months, with the right intervention for early outcomes, we could provide the best results to improve motor function.
We look forward to the continual research and results that stem from this great work.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Brain and Mind Centre's newsletter Front of Mind.