UQ cerebral palsy project awarded $1.5 million to advance early detection in babies

16 Sep 2016

University of Queensland project aimed at early detection of cerebral palsy in babies was today awarded State funding to further research as part of the government's Advance Queensland partnerships initiative.

School of Medicine Professor and Scientific Director of the Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre  Roslyn Boyd said the funding would support her team to improve earlier detection of babies at high risk of Cerebral Palsy across Queensland and to fast track them to early intervention.

“We’re delighted to be awarded the funding as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships Program,” Professor Boyd said.

“This will help us advance cerebral palsy detection and improve outcomes for babies in Queensland, enhancing the quality of life for infants and their families.”

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch, announced the project’s funding yesterday in QLD state parliament and said Professor Boyd and her team would develop new ‘toolboxes’ of biological and clinical markers to detect Cerebral Palsy earlier.

“About 600 to 700 babies are born with cerebral palsy in Australia every year. Pre-term babies are at a higher risk of developing the condition,” Ms Enoch said.

“If you can detect cerebral palsy early, then you can fast-track early intervention programs.”

Children with cerebral palsy usually do not receive their diagnosis until well into the second year of life, often resulting in a late referral to intervention.

“The first two-years of life are a period of rapid neural change so early detection is critical if we are to improve the health and well-being of these children as they grow up,” Ms Enoch said.

The Minister said Professor Boyd, one of Australia’s foremost authorities on cerebral palsy, was already making great strides with older children in managing the condition.

“Professor Boyd definitely has the runs on the board when it comes to tackling cerebral palsy, so we’re very hopeful that she and her team will be successful in translating their innovations into clinical products and technologies, such as smartphone applications and telemedicine, not only helping children and their families, but making Queensland a leader in Cerebral Palsy rehabilitation.”

Children’s Health Queensland, the Merchant Charitable Foundation, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the Australian e-health Research Centre at CSIRO are the project’s industry partners.

QLD Health Minister Cameron Dick said the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships funding was an important step in solving health issues not just in Queensland, but globally.

“Bringing research institutions and industry together is critical in delivering tangible outcomes for Queenslanders,” Mr Dick said.

“This approach is proven to deliver results and I look forward to seeing the outcomes from these collaborations.”

The University of Queensland’s cerebral palsy early detection project is one of 15 projects to be funded this year as part of the Government's initiative.

Media: Professor Roslyn Boyd, r.boyd@uq.edu.au , +61 7 3069 7372, 0434 608443; Bernadette O’Connor, Faculty of Medicine, bernadette.oconnor@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 5118, 0431 533 209.