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Housing for people with acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury (SCI) remains a significant issue in Australia and internationally. This review examined the current research evidence regarding the efficacy of housing alternatives for adults with ABI or SCI in relation to four principal outcomes of interest: the person’s (1) community integration/participation, (2) independence, (3) psychosocial well-being and (4) quality of life. The review also sought to identify how the reported efficacy of the housing alternatives might be impacted by individual factors.
For this systematic review, quantitative empirical, peer-reviewed research published after 1 January 2003 was sought. Ten journal articles met the eligibility criteria. None of the included studies comprised an adult SCI sample.
The research identified lower levels of community integration/participation, independence, psychosocial well-being and quality of life for adults (particularly younger adults) with ABI living in ‘structured settings’ (i.e., residential care) compared to those living in ‘home-like’ environments (i.e., private homes) and ‘disability-specific’ settings (i.e., shared supported accommodation, group homes, foster care homes, cluster units).
More research is needed to compare ‘home-like’ and ‘disability-specific’ settings, and individual housing models more generally (i.e., living at home with friends vs with family vs living in shared supported accommodation vs living in residential care). This review identified a number of limitations in the current evidence base and several important directions for future research. Policymakers, architects, designers, builders, developers, funding agencies, international researchers as well as people with ABI or SCI and their families may benefit from the findings of this review.
The impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) extends beyond the person who was injured. Family caregivers of adults with moderate to severe TBI frequently report increased burden, stress and depression. Few studies have examined the well-being of family members in the mild TBI population despite the latter representing up to 95% of all TBIs.
Five areas of well-being were examined in 99 family members (including parents, partners, siblings, other relatives, adult children, friends or neighbours) of adults (aged ≥16 years) with mild TBI. At 6- and 12-month post-injury, family members completed the Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale, Short Form-36 Health Survey, EQ-5D-3L, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Outcomes and change over time and associated factors were examined.
At 6 months, group mean scores for health-related quality of life for mental and physical components and overall health status were similar to the New Zealand (NZ) population. Mean scores for sleep, anxiety and depression were below clinically significant thresholds. From 6 to 12 months, there were significant improvements in Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale scores by 2.61 (95% confidence interval: 0.72–4.49), health-related quality of life (mental component) and EQ-5D-3L overall health (P = 0.01). Minimally clinically important differences were observed in overall health, anxiety, health-related quality of life and depression at 12 months. Female family members reported significant improvements in physical health over time, and more positive life changes were reported by those caring for males with TBI.
The findings suggest diminished burden over time for family members of adults with mild TBI.
To identify management practices of Australian speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in the treatment of non-progressive dysarthria using a subsystem approach, and to explore SLPs’ consideration and implementation of the theoretical underpinnings of non-progressive dysarthria management.
A 39-item online survey was distributed to Australian SLPs, with 80 responses suitable for data analysis.
Practices of SLPs were variable for the management of the speech subsystems. The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®) was the most commonly used manualised treatment program, and was employed by 63.77% of respondents. Almost all SLPs (>88%) provided strategies to improve functional communication. There was no clear preference for low tech alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices. Speech generating devices were the most commonly employed high tech device. Almost two-thirds of respondents used non-speech oral motor exercises (NSOMEs) in treatment. SLPs had varied frequencies and models of service delivery for intervention. SLPs valued interventions targeting the activity and participation domains of the ICF, however this was restricted by the treatment context and resources available. The majority of SLPs (92.06%) were aware of the principles of motor learning, however many were unsure regarding the specifics of implementation.
There is a clear need for further research into the efficacy of treatment techniques to guide decision-making.
Individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI) may experience persistent and distressing challenging behaviours (CB), and therefore, effective delivery of behaviour interventions is crucial. This study aimed to investigate community ABI therapists’ experiences of using, training in and implementing behaviour interventions with a focus on Positive Behaviour Support (PBS).
A sample of Australian community ABI therapists (n = 136) completed an online survey about their experiences with behaviour interventions, including PBS. Data from open-ended questions were analysed using content analysis. Frequency and descriptive statistics were computed, and a multiple regression was performed to determine factors predicting readiness to learn and implement new behaviour interventions. Rank-based non-parametric tests were conducted to investigate the influence of clinical role on experiences with behaviour interventions and training preferences.
Consistent with PBS, participants indicated that the following were important in addressing CB: teamwork and collaboration, person-centred practice, working with antecedents, environmental modification, improving quality of life and skill-building. Despite a high level of desire and readiness, 80% of participants reported facing barriers to learning and implementing new behaviour interventions (e.g., lack of time). Participants’ confidence in using behaviour interventions (β = 0.31; p = 0.002) and the number of barriers faced (β = −0.30; p = 0.002) predicted their readiness to learn and implement new behaviour interventions. Confidence, duration of past training in behaviour interventions and preferred duration of future training did not differ based on clinical role.
Implications for the development of training in behaviour interventions such as PBS and implementation into community practice are discussed.
Cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) has a complex relationship with disease progression and neurodegeneration. The aim of this study was to shed light on the importance of early detection of cognitive impairment in MS patients.
The study comprised two groups of definite MS patients, relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), each with 25 patients. Physical disability was assessed using the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), while the risk of secondary progression was assessed using the Bayesian Risk Estimate for Multiple Sclerosis (BREMS). Cognitive functions were assessed using the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis (BICAMS) and Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT). Assessment of neurodegeneration was done using optical coherence tomography (OCT) via quantification of retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL).
MS patients with higher RNFL thickness demonstrated a larger learning effect size than patients who had lower values in RNFL thickness regardless of MS type. RRMS patients showed significant improvement in delayed recall after giving cues than SPMS. The symbol digit modalities test was the only neuropsychological test that showed a significant negative correlation with EDSS (P = 0.009). There was a statistically significant negative correlation between BREMS scores and performance in all neuropsychological tests.
Inclusion of neurocognitive evaluation in the periodic assessment of MS patients is mandatory to detect patients at increased risk of secondary progression. The thickness of RNFL is suggested as a method to estimate the expected benefit of cognitive rehabilitation, regardless of MS type.
People with cerebral palsy (CP) are less physically active than the general population and, consequently, are at increased risk of preventable disease. Evidence indicates that low-moderate doses of physical activity can reduce disease risk and improve fitness and function in people with CP. Para athletes with CP typically engage in ‘performance-focused’ sports training, which is undertaken for the sole purpose of enhancing sports performance. Anecdotally, many Para athletes report that participation in performance-focused sports training confers meaningful clinical benefits which exceed those reported in the literature; however, supporting scientific evidence is lacking. The aim of this paper is to describe the protocol for an 18-month study evaluating the clinical effects of a performance-focused swimming training programme for people with CP who have high support needs.
This study will use a concurrent multiple-baseline, single-case experimental design across three participants with CP who have high support needs. Each participant will complete a five-phase trial comprising: baseline (A1); training phase 1 (B1); maintenance phase 1 (A2); training phase 2 (B2); and maintenance phase 2 (A3). For each participant, measurement of swim velocity, health-related quality of life and gross motor functioning will be carried out a minimum of five times in each of the five phases.
The study described will produce Level II evidence regarding the effects of performance-focused swimming training on clinical outcomes in people with CP who have high support needs. Findings are expected to provide an indication of the potential for sport to augment outcomes in neurological rehabilitation.