Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre

The Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre was established to improve health outcomes for children with cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury. Our excellence in research has been made possible thanks to our funders and our strong links to clinical services at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital. The outcomes of our research provide an evidence-base for clinical services offered by the hospital through the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, the Queensland Children's Gait Laboratory and the Queensland Cerebral Palsy Health Service. 

The Centre was established in August 2007 as a joint initiative of the state-wide Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation service at Children’s Health Queensland and The University of Queensland's School of Medicine.

Strong links to clinical services

As a service within the Department of Paediatric Rehabilitation at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, our Centre is the first of its kind in Queensland to be directly linked to tertiary health services.

The outcomes of our research provide an evidence-base for clinical services offered by the hospital through the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, the Queensland Children's Gait Laboratory and the Queensland Cerebral Palsy Health Service.

Research Themes

  1. Neurorehabilitation including novel interventions to optimise neuroplasticity.
  2. Neuroscience: nature of the brain injury and the link to outcomes (motor, manual, communication, musculoskeletal and executive function).
  3. Early detection of CP, to predict outcomes and fast track families to early interventions.
  4. Novel therapies: including the potential of stem cells and neuroprotection strategies.
  5. Nutritional outcomes: Growth, nutrition, physical activity, physical fitness and muscle mechanics.
  6. Parenting interventions as a model of environmental enrichment.
  7. Translational research: the implementation of evidence based interventions into clinical practice.
  8. Education and training: training the next generation of clinical researchers (Medical and Allied Health).


Our Achievements


Members of the QCPRRC team have been awarded numerous prestigious awards including:

  • Dr Leanne Sakzewski (PhD Occupational Therapist) has been awarded a prestigious NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (2015‐2018) for the project, Cluster randomised controlled trial to improve translation of intensive high quality upper limb rehabilitation for children with unilateral cerebral palsy. This award continues her UQ Postdoc Fellowship for Women (2014‐2016).  Dr Sakzewski was also the recipient of an Ian Potter 2014 Travel Grant to attend the American ACPDM in San Diego, California.  Dr Sakzewski continues to foster her links with the NHMRC Research Translation Faculty by attending the NHMRC Research Translation Faculty Symposium in Melbourne in November, 2014.
  • Dr Lee Barber (PhD, Physiotherapist) was awarded 3 national and 1 international grants as a chief investigator: CIA on a 2014 UWA‐UQ Bilateral Research Collaboration Award to validate a freehand 3D ultrasound system for morphological measures of the calf muscle in CP. CIA on Physiotherapy Research Project grant (2014‐2016) from Qld Health and Medical Research. CIA for Research Foundation of the CP Alliance grant (2014‐2016) to test the efficacy of first intra‐muscular injections of Botulinum toxin A on muscle mechanics in young children with cerebral palsy. CIB on a CP International Research Foundation project grant (2014‐2016) investigating the relationship between muscle quality, functional capacity and performance through the adult lifespan in C. 
  • Dr Lee Barber received a prestigious international award, The Mac Keith Press Promising Career Award for his paper “Innovative measures of muscle mechanics and investigation of musculoskeletal outcomes and the effects of interventions for children and adults with cerebral palsy” at the American Academy of Cerebral palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) in 2015.
  • Dr Koa Whittingham was awarded a national grant as CIA for “Parenting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – PACT” from the Research Foundation of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (December 2014).  
  • Dr Koa Whittingham received a prestigious national award, 2014 Best Paper for Effective Intervention for People Living with Cerebral Palsy, at the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine Meeting.  
  • Dr Kristie Bell (PhD, Senior Dietician) was an invited international speaker at the 47th Annual Meeting of The European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition held in Israel. Dr Bell was awarded an international fellowship to attend the American AACPDM, in San Diego, California, where she presented a workshop and two oral presentations.  
  • Mr Jarred Gillett, Biomechanist, PhD scholar, was awarded a full‐time NHMRC scholarship and a Lions Foundation PhD top‐up scholarship, for his doctoral program for an RCT of FAST: Functional effects of high intensity strength training in young adults with Cerebral Palsy.  

Grants and Funding

Since establishment in 2007, the QCPRRC has achieved more than $20m in funding including 8 NHMRC projects, 5 NHMRC Fellowships, 2 Qld Government projects and Fellowship, ARC project, NIH project, 8 philanthropic grants and 4 NHMRC/UQ equipment grants. UQ has shown ongoing support for the Centre through $5.2m in strategic funding.



Current Studies

We have a number of studies taking place across our themes. These studies are not actively recruiting participants, but have moved to the data analysis phase. Please click on the links below for more information about each study:

CP Child:

  • Gross Motor and Brain Development
  • Growth, Nutrition and Physical Activity

CoMBiT: Movement and Bimanual Therapy: A randomised trial

Mitii™ CP: “Move it to improve it” for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Mitii™ ABI: “Move it to improve it” for Children with Cerebral Palsy

MiYoga: Mindfulness Yoga for Children with Cerebral Palsy and their Caregivers

Muscle function during gait and the impact of lower limb surgery

PPREMO study: Prediction of PREterm Motor Outcomes

PREMM: PREMature infants Massage therapy

Prem Baby Triple P: Supporting Parents of Preterm Infants

SuPreme: Neuroprotective role of sulphate among preterm babies

UP-BEAT: Upper limb Baby Early Action Observation Training

Studies seeking research participants

Please visit the Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation research studies page to find out about our studies and how you can be involved. 


Study at QCPRRC

You simply couldn't pick a better place to kickstart your career in child health research here in Queensland. QCPRRC had a very successful outcome for our 2015 MBBS honours cohort with all 6 achieving first class honours. We are keen to have new MBBS honours and or MPhil/ PhD students (we have had 2 very good MPhil/PHDs concurrent with MBBS, Dr Henry Tsao and Dr Simon Scheck). Our honours students have achieved first author publications (1-2) and gone on to fast track to their chosen specialty field in Medicine (Dr Evyn Arnfield Radiology, Dr Alex Craven Radiology), and others to Neurosurgery, Neurology, Obstetrics, so the MBBS honours and concurrent MBBS MPhil/PhD has been a success! 

Our students will receive training in systematic reviews and meta-analyses for their topic, biostatistics training and support and be part of a larger Research team with our Post-doctoral fellows and consultant clinicians.  We have also organised elective placements for our MBBS students with eminent clinician researchers at Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital (Orthopaedics), The University of Pisa (Neurology) so that our MBBS honours can have many opportunities to develop expertise, experience and track record in their chosen field (Paediatrics, Neurology, Neuroscience, Orthopaedics, Neonatology, Rehabilitation, Radiology, Obstetrics and Neurosurgery).  We look forward to attracting a new cohort of enthusiastic MBBS students in the 2016-2017 honours program. 

New Projects for MD-MBBS considering a concurrent of intercollated MPhil/PhD in 2016-2017.

Visit our study page 


Our Funders

Our funders help us to achieve our vision of improving health outcomes for children with cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury, and we are grateful for their support. 

QCPRRC has core infrastructure funding provided by The University of Queensland, and the Merchant Charitable Foundation through the Children's Hospital Foundation.  Our track record for innovative and groundbreaking research has earned us a national and international standing within the field of cerebral palsy and rehabilitation research and we have had extensive research success with funding bodies such as the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Queensland Smart State Fellowship Scheme, the Australian Research Council and National Institutes of Health, United States. 

Our Facilities

The QCPRRC has recently relocated to the Centre for Clinical Health Research (CCHR at 62 Graham street, South Brisbane, QLD) adjacent to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH), the largest Paediatric hospital facility in Australia.

In the CCHR there is a new fully equipped clinical gait laboratory (8 camera Vicon motion analysis system, 3 AMTI force plates, 16 channel EMG, high speed video capture, COSMed Energy Expenditure). The Centre also has essential equipment for muscle mechanics studies including (ultrasound system, portable 3D motion capture system, and customised paediatric dynamometer). In addition, through collaborations with the School of Human Movement Science at the UQ there is access to another motion analysis laboratory (Qualisys 10 camera, force platforms, EMG, a split-instrumented treadmill for running studies), a neuromechanics laboratory (TeleMed Logiscan portable ultrasound system and two transducers, Optitrack 3D motion capture system (for freehand 3D ultrasound), force transducers, potentiometers, Biodex dynamometer, stimulator) and technical support staff for equipment development. In the CCHR the QCPRRC team has access to DEXA bone density scanning, a naturalistic observation room, wet and dry clinical assessment rooms and parking by arrangement for our study participants.

The QCPRRC has linkages to facilities including: (i) Australian E-Health Research Centre at CSIRO (brain imaging analysis and management of ‘big data sets’ to derive clinical biomarkers of brain injury from neuroimaging analysis with Prof Stephen Rose); (ii) access to 3x3T MRI’s at the new Herston Imaging Research Facility (HIRF), advanced brain imaging for neonates at 3T MRI with Australia’s first MRI compatible incubator at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital (Prof Colditz, Prof Alan Coulthard) and (iii) early markers of brain injury (high density EEG as clinical biomarkers of CP and to measure neuroplasticity in response to intervention) at UQ Perinatal Research Centre (Prof Colditz).

Learn more about our facilities