Australian-first lab to improve treatment for brain-injured children

Australia’s first laboratory dedicated to improving outcomes for children with brain injuries has opened in Brisbane.

The KidStim Lab, at The University of Queensland Children’s Health Research Centre, will extend the range of non-invasive treatment options for children with acquired brain injuries from incidents such as a stroke or car accident.

Lab Director Associate Professor Karen Barlow said children’s brains responded differently to injury than adult brains.

“After injury, as children grow and develop and brain reorganisation occurs, problems can emerge that were not previously recognised,” Dr Barlow said.

“Brain injury leads to disruptions in networks and communications between different brain regions.

She said non-invasive brain stimulation used either magnets or tiny electrical currents.

“These therapies can change specific regions of brain activity and improve network communication to potentially improve learning, sleep and energy levels and decrease headaches.

“Children with stroke report improved physical recovery and increased participation in activities, while children with depression report improved mood and well-being.”

The UQ Acquired Brain Injury in Children research team will build a research program to investigate new treatments using non-invasive therapies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation.

The lab brings together expertise from UQ, the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Griffith University, the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service and Children’s Health Queensland.

It will collaborate with renowned international centres, including the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Canada and the University of Minnesota.

The project has been funded by UQ, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Children’s Health Foundation, the Ian Potter Foundation and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission.

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