In this section
Research is an important activity of the Department and has two important aims; firstly to learn more about the causes of childhood disability; and secondly, to improve treatment methods to ensure the best possible outcomes for children and their families. Our research program has focussed on cerebral palsy but we are broadening the agenda to investigate other conditions associated with developmental disability in childhood. A key feature of our program is our collaboration with other departments within the hospital, particularly orthopaedics, plastic surgery and allied health. But over the years, we have had joint projects with many others. In addition, we collaborate with community agencies including Yooralla and Scope.
The current Research Team
Our research program in this area has focussed on cerebral palsy, the commonest cause of physical disability in childhood.
Reid S., Lanigan A., Reddihough D.S.
The purpose of the Victorian Cerebral Palsy Register is to generate new information about the causes and prevalence of cerebral palsy in Victoria. The database created also forms a pool of names for many of the other projects within the Department. The Victorian Register is in an unique position as it draws from a larger population than most other similar registers, enabling larger cohorts to be recruited for specific studies and increasing the potential for subgroup analysis in our epidemiological research.
A brochure about the Register can be obtained by clicking on the link below:
Families or individuals with cerebral palsy may give their consent for their names to be included on the Register or to be contacted for research projects. The consent form is available below:
This was launched on 31 July, 2007. Data is combined at the age of 5 years to achieve a National Register and the first report has been published. The clearing house is located at the Cerebral Palsy Research Institute in New South Wales.
Reid S, Westbury C, Savoia H, Reddihough D.
The aim of this project is to determine if there are differences between Rhesus blood group status of children with cerebral palsy due to previous thromboembolic events, and their mothers. Blood groups (Rh, ABO) have been obtained from mothers and their children with cerebral palsy.
Reid S, Dagia C, Ditchfield M, Reddihough D.
The aim of this project is to examine, describe and classify patterns of cerebral abnormalities found on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a large population-based cohort of children with cerebral palsy (800 children) born in Victoria between 1999 and 2006. These MRI findings will be correlated with data available in the Victorian Cerebral Palsy Register.
The other major focus of our research program is an evaluation of treatment strategies so that the best interventions can be put in place for children and their families.
Current projects are as follows:
Reddihough D, Marraffa C, Kohn M, Hazell P, Wray J, Lee K, Silove N, Dossetor D, Whitehouse A, Kloprogge S, Paramala S, Reid S.
This NHMRC funded multisite study aims to determine the efficacy and safety of fluoxetine for treating repetitive behaviours in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. The study is recruiting children aged between 8 and less than 18 years of age with troublesome, restricted, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours,
Reddihough D, Imms C, Ditchfield M, Beare R, Eldridge B, Rodda J, Lee K, Reid S, Harvey A, Randall M, Dagia C.
The aim of this study is to determine the clinical outcomes of children (for example, gross motor and upper limb function) with the particular MRI finding of periventricular white matter injury on their brain scans. Children with cerebral palsy born between 1999 and 2006 inclusive will be recruited. We are particularly interested to understand whether those born prematurely differ in their clinical outcomes to those born at term.
Spreckley M, Rickards A, Walstab J, Simpson J, Tuck J.
This is a new model of service delivery aiming to increase language skills and social development in young children with developmental disabilities or who are disadvantaged. Evaluation has been undertaken in conjunction with the AustralianCatholicUniversity.
Reid S, Johnstone B, Chong D, Westbury C., Walstab J, Reddihough D.
After completing a randomised study of the outcomes of using Botulinum toxin for saliva control problems, we are now doing further work to document the benefits and side effects of this intervention more clearly.
McCutcheon J, Johnson H, Reid S, Westbury C, Lionti T, Reddihough D.
The primary aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of drooling in children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) living in Victoria who were born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2001. The prevalence of drooling was also examined across subgroups of children with CP, according to the functional severity, type and topographical distribution of the movement disorder, and presence of various comorbid factors.
Davis E, Waters E, Boyd R, Reid S, Reddihough D, Mackinnon A, Graham HK.
Following the successful development of the CP-QOL-Child, this project has now developed a measure of health related quality of life of adolescents from the point of view of both the parents and the young people themselves. There is international collaboration in this project with centres in North America.
Bolch C, Umstad M, Fisher J, Davis P, Reddihough D.
This project is exploring the quality of life within families of multiple birth children (twins, triplets etc) with disabilities. Analysis of data will allow estimation of the prevalence of disability amongst multiples and the identification of family and individual characteristics rendering members of a family particularly vulnerable to experiencing poor quality of life. Determining which of those characteristics might be amenable to change has important implications for providers of care to multiple birth families with children with disabilities.
Jiang B, Davis E, Walstab J, Lanigan A, Reid S, Reddihough D.
This study aimed to determine the health and quality of life of young adults aged 20-30 years with cerebral palsy. A postal questionnaire was dispatched to several hundred young people.Papers are in preparation.
The Victorian Prader-Willi Syndrome Register
Lionti T, Rowell M., Reid S.
Prader-Willi syndrome is a neurogenetic characterised by severe infantile hypotonia and failure to thrive at birth, delayed motor milestones, learning disabilities, abnormal growth patterns and development of hyperphagia in early childhood. The hyperphagia continues throughout adulthood, creating a substantial risk for life-threatening conditions including obesity. We have developed a Register to determine the outcomes of this condition with the hope of reducing the considerable morbidity associated with it.
Potential for cord blood stem cells to treat cerebral palsy
Stem cells have the potential to treat a number of diseases, and there is research being conducted worldwide to find out more about their uses. At present only a few of the potential uses for stem cells have been shown to be effective; for example, to treat blood and bone marrow disorders, metabolic disorders and graft-versus-host disease following an organ transplant.
Stem cells from umbilical cord blood are the simplest and safest to use because they are plentiful, freely available, have low risk of being rejected from the body and they have been used safely in children to treat blood-based diseases for many years. Over the past few years, the possibility of using cord blood stem cells to treat neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy (CP) has been raised. Early studies in CP show mixed results but they show that the treatment is safe, which has led to a small number of clinical trials starting internationally.
We have looked at a range of options for testing cord blood stem cells as a therapy for CP. Now, together with researchers at other sites in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, we are planning a small clinical trial for children with CP who have either their own or a sibling’s cord blood in storage. The aims of this study will be to look at whether a cord blood cell injection is safe; whether it works when combined with intensive therapy; and if it works, how it might work. This study will gather information to guide future research; it will not tell us any definite answers as to the value of injecting stem cells into children with CP. The final aim for this study is to find out whether a large Australian trial of this use of stem cells is feasible.
Current status: Planning stage
Modak M, Reid S, Berkowitz R, Reddihough D.
Hearing impairment is reported to occur in approximately 12% of children with cerebral palsy. Early assessment and identification of hearing impairment lies in its potential impact on a child's speech-language, cognitive, and psychosocial development. This project aims firstly to determine current data on the frequency of hearing problems in children with cerebral palsy to make international comparisons and to gauge the extent of the problem for service providers. Secondly we hope to gather up to date information about the possible causes of hearing impairment in a recent cohort of children with cerebral palsy, to increase knowledge of the area and to determine whether there are any ways of preventing this added comorbidity.
Mei C, Morgan A, Reilly S, Mensah F, Reddihough D
This study will use a population-based cohort to determine the frequency and range of speech and language impairments in children with cerebral palsy. The features of speech and language impairment in these children will also be determined.The proposed study will provide clinicians with a greater understanding of speech and language development in children with cerebral palsy which will contribute to early detection and intervention for these children and their families.
Sherwell S, Stargatt R, Wrennall J, Reid S, Reddihough D.
A cohort of 4-5 year old children with cerebral palsy have been seen for a cognitive assessment to determine more about the various learning difficulties in children with cerebral palsy. The results are currently being analysed.
Williams J, Reddihough D., Anderson V, Reid S.
The aim of this work is to determine whether children with mild spastic hemiplegia have a deficit in the ability to utilise motor imagery. A project has been completed and more work is underway in this area.
Lionti T, Sabin M, Reddihough D.
The aim of this project is to compare the degree of hyperphagia present in three groups of children; those those with lifestyle-related obesity, those with Prader-Willi Syndrome and a group of overweight or obese children with intellectual disability. We also hope to determine if there is a difference in physical activity levels and dietary quality between the same three groups. It is hoped that the outcomes of this study will assist clinicians in managing weight problems in children with obesity and disabilities.
Kothrakis H, Harvey D, Reddihough D.
Helen Kathrakis is a PhD student from MonashUniversity. This study is nearing completion.