Dr Michele Callisaya
2005 grant recipient
Dr Michele Callisaya graduated from LaTrobe University in 1992 and since has worked mainly in the area of Aged Care and Rehabilitation. In 2005 Michele enrolled part-time in a PhD at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), examining the effect of advancing age on gait, and how different gait patterns increase the risk of falls.
In 2011 she was successful in obtaining a part-time NHMRC Early Career Fellowship through Monash University to examine the complex interplay between the brain and mobility, and their combined influence on adverse health outcomes in older people. This work furthered Michele’s interest in how physiotherapists might intervene in helping people preserve brain health, which is where her research currently focuses.
Research areas and findings
Michele received her PRF grant in 2005 whilst working on the NHMRC funded Tasmanian Study of Cognition and Gait (TASCOG), a population-based study of over 400 older people led by Associate Professor Velandai Srikanth. The grant enabled Michele to add the collection of 12 months of prospective data on falls. The addition of falls data has resulted in eight publications in journals such as the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Journal of Gerontology (Medical Sciences), Stroke and Age and Ageing.
Research impact on physiotherapy
Having such a grant contributed to Michele's success in receiving an NHMRC fellowship and has also helped her research career. She has presented at a number of conferences both nationally and internationally and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society Executive which organises a fantastic conference every two years showcasing the latest falls prevention research. The larger TASCOG project, with the assistance of the APARF, has led to a number of important findings to assist clinicians such as physiotherapists and doctors identify older people at risk of falling. The risk factors identified may also be potential targets for therapeutic interventions.
Important areas for development in physiotherapy
Michele believes there should be a focus in the area of investigating the role of a healthy lifestyle throughout the lifespan to preserve brain health and associated adverse outcomes. She is also interested in ways of facilitating physical activity for people with conditions such as stroke and cognitive impairment.