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Imaging, robotics, VR at rehab research conference

Media release – July 26, 2006
Neuro-imaging, robotics and virtual reality key issues for discussion at rehabilitation research conference

Neuro-imaging, robotics and virtual reality are key issues for debate among up to 300 delegates at the national rehabilitation conference in Rotorua next February.

The National Rehabilitation Research Institute event will showcase the cutting edge of new developments in rehabilitation, organiser Duncan Reid said today.

With an ageing population and people surviving what until relatively recently would have been fatal neurological injuries, rehabilitation is an increasingly important part of health and social provision, he said.

``Rehabilitation has advanced significantly over recent years. New technologies are being applied including advanced neuro-imaging, robotics and virtual reality.

``Despite such progress, rehabilitation remains complex – both for the professionals who work in it either clinically or in research as well as for the clients who use their services.’’

One of the conference key guest speakers is Kathryn McPherson, professor of rehabilitation at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Her clinical and research work has been focused on neurological rehabilitation (with people after stroke or traumatic brain injury) and she has also explored have rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain and life threatening illnesses.

Dr Lynne Turner Stokes, the Herbert Dunhill, chair of rehabilitation at King’s College in London will be among the overseas guest speakers. A panel of experts will debate the inequalities faced by disabled New Zealanders seeking rehabilitation.

This major conference will bring together research and topics relevant to rehabilitation and facilitating links between all those interested in improving knowledge about rehabilitation.

Other topics to be covered include: the use of everyday technology - such as mobile phones - to help those with brain injuries, the barriers experienced by Maori during stroke recovery, and the current climate of pain management in New Zealand.

Some cutting edge developments in helping people
rehabilitate include new technology and virtual reality being a tool for recovery.

The main areas in need of rehabilitation centre on head injury, mostly as a result of car crashes.

``We know so little about how many and how best to enhance recovery once survival is secured. The issue of inequality for disabled Kiwis is still a major issue,’’ Reid said.

``This conference is also important as it will bring together experts, clinical providers, researchers, policy makers. We hope it will also lift the profile of NZ-based research.’’

He said rehabilitation focused on adaptive and restorative strategies across many aspects of human life and performance.

The February 16-18 conference aims to put the issues at the centre of discussion between clinicians, researchers, policy makers and people with disability.

The combination of a two day ‘think tank’ and the conference will ensure the important event advances knowledge and challenges practice.


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