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2017 NSW Branch Awards

Marina Williams
19 May 2017

The NSW Branch Awards will take place on 30 June 2017. Register now. 

The importance of integrating research within clinical practice will be the focus of the keynote presentation at this month’s NSW Branch Awards. Professor Iona Novak, Head of Research at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute (CPARI) within the University of Sydney, says her topic ‘Getting Heard by the Herd: The Art & Science of Knowledge Translation’ will highlight to attendees that patient outcomes can be improved if research findings are fast-tracked into clinical practice.

‘Clinical practice lags as much as 10 to 20 years behind research,’ Iona says. ‘As many as 40 per cent of patients worldwide do not receive proven effective treatments and more than 20 per cent receive ineffective or harmful treatments. The McKeon Review in Australia confirmed the same finding. Yet, we all want to help and provide excellent clinical care. The purpose of this keynote is to provide the latest knowledge translation research, summarising how to increase the uptake and use of evidence within clinical decisionmaking, patient communication and policy development.’

The McKeon Review, a report into Australia’s health and medical research sector, was released in 2013. The Strategic review of health and medical research: better health through research outlined 21 recommendations, including a long-term vision of a fully integrated health and medical research sector. However, research findings can only change health outcomes if and when health care organisations, systems and professionals adopt them in practice. Knowledge-transfer research investigates ways to accelerate the transfer of research findings into clinical practice.

Iona has extensive clinical experience as an occupational therapist and manages the strategic development of research into the prevention and cure of cerebral palsy (CP). She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) from the University of Sydney, a Master of Science (Hons) and a PhD from the University of Western Sydney. In 2005, the Fulbright Scholar co-founded CPARI for the purpose of prevention, cure and best management of CP. Her research interests are in evidence-based practice, knowledge translation, goal-directed training and clinical trials for CP, including neuroprotective and neuroregenerative agents.

‘I am driven by an internal belief that healthcare truly has the potential to change lives,’ Iona says, adding that physiotherapy is one of the most commonly used services by people with CP. ‘Physiotherapy services framed by the child and family’s goals are considered best practice, and reflect the substantial evidence base about goal-based motor learning; above all, because intensive practice of motor tasks that are meaningful, and considered necessary by the child and family, are more enjoyable and more effective, from a neuroplasticity perspective.’ The NSW Branch Awards, which acknowledge members who have made a remarkable contribution to physiotherapy, will be on June 30 at the Aerial Function Centre, University of Technology Sydney.


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