SRR Winter 2016 meeting 2nd February in London

02 Feb 2016

The society’s meeting in winter 2016 was held at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, London, hosted by the hospitals’ Research Fellow in Music Therapy, Dr Julian O’Kelly. The two symposia themes of the conference were ‘New Research Perspectives from Rehabilitation in Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness’, and ‘New Perspectives in Paediatric Rehabilitation’.

The first symposium was opened by Professor David Sharp, a NIHR Health Research Professor and consultant neurologist based at Imperial College London. He gave a thought provoking perspective on novel approaches to treating cognitive impairment after brain injury, exploring the factors underpinning these impairments. He gave suggestions on how new treatments might be developed, using state of the art neuro-imaging methods to illuminate the potential for translational work to support large-scale studies in the future. Dr Sal Connolly, consultant neuropsychologist at Ascot Rehabilitation followed with a comprehensive overview of the complexity involved in research which involves assessing for capacity with prolonged disorders of consciousness. Her talk gave delegates important pointers in relation to marrying up the necessary clinical skills and the legal aspects of the process.

The second symposia was opened by Dr Carolyn Dunford, Head of Therapy & Research at The Children's Trust, who gave an interesting presentation on the challenges involved in measuring outcomes in paediatric rehabilitation. She highlighted the rationale behind the choices of new outcome measures addressing the short-comings of current practice which focuses on impairment rather than activity, participation and the environment or quality of life.

Carolyn was followed by Dr Anne Gordon, Senior Consultant Occupational Therapist at Evelina London Children's Hospital, and visiting Senior Lecturer, Kings College London. Her talk provided a summary of current NIHR Programme Development Research on Stroke in Childhood. Delegates were given an update on the guidelines in review, including an overview of the challenges in developing the evidence base, and the challenges in achieving expert consensus in this field. The symposium was closed by Dr Rob Forsyth, NHS Consultant Paediatric Neurologist at the Great North Children's Hospital, who provided a perspective on the NIHR programme development research in rehabilitation services for children after acquired brain injury (ABI). He explored regional variations in the assessment of outcomes after ABI, and the difficulties involved in demonstrating relationships between dose/content/timing and severity adjusted functional outcomes. 

In choosing these themes, thought was given to a range of factors pertinent to all of those involved in rehabilitation research. Both fields involve highly complex and heterogeneous populations, hard to recruit to, and challenging to generalise findings for the wider field of clinical practice. The papers and posters presented at the meeting were proof positive that important and much needed research in these fields can be achieved, providing meaningful outcomes for both clinicians and patients.

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