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Technology

Pioneering innovations to support inclusion for people with disabilities
Technology is an enabler that has revolutionised communications and mobility options for people with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities.

From robotics and exoskeletons to eye-gaze technology and implants, many things that seemed impossible a generation ago are now a reality and already making a huge difference for people with CP and their families.

Our team of engineers, therapists and researchers are advancing hugely exciting projects to further unlock the future of assistive technology to make positive change on an emotional, physical and intellectual level by breaking down barriers to communicate, move and participate.

Assistive technology holds the promise of an exciting future for people with CP. Robots will be able to help with tasks, and exoskeleton suits will provide strength and the ability to exercise. People with CP and other non-degenerative disabilities will be able to choose to have an array of cochlear-like implants like to wirelessly reconnect their muscles and communications devices to raise their voices – this is the future we’re working towards.

"Innovative technology can facilitate greater participation, inclusion and independence for people with disability”
- Dr Petra Karlsson, Technology Program Lead, Cerebral Palsy Alliance

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The Technology team

Researcher Dr Petra Karlsson

Dr Petra Karlsson

Senior Research Fellow and Program Lead, Technology
Researcher Alistair McEwan
Chair of Technology & Innovation
Researcher Darryl Chiu

Darryl Chiu

Research Assistant, Technology
Researcher Ingrid Honan

Dr Ingrid Honan

Research Fellow: Adults; Cognition, CP Strategy

Find out more about Remarkable, our disability tech startup accelerator

What we're working on:

  • Accessible TechToys for infants with CP
  • MyVoice Library
  • Neural interfaces for long-term implantable therapy in CP 
    Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) account for the overwhelming majority of movement disorders. Electrical stimulation is an established approach for the restoration of muscle movement, but its utility as a therapy has thus far been limited by: poor selectivity in the activation of desired muscles producing unwanted contractions and co-activation of motor and sensory fibres. In this study we focus on solving these two key issues. Targeted stimulation or blocking of fibres that lead to rigidity and pain would alleviate these two major areas of unmet need in cerebral palsy. 
    Chief Investigators:
    • Prof Alistair McEwan – University of Sydney 
    • Prof Gregg Suaning – University of Sydney
    • Dr Claudia Gschwind – Royal North Shore Hospital
    • Dr Timothy Scott – University of NSW
    • Funding information: Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, 2018-2019

Projects we've completed:

  • The overall aim of the Eyes on Communication body of work led by Dr Karlsson it to improve communication, play, leisure, social, work and participation outcomes for those with severe cerebral palsy with complex communication needs who need eye-gaze control technology. The specific aim of this component of this project is to develop clinical guidelines for eye-gaze control technology implementation, including assessment, set up, communication partner instruction and evaluation to support service provision for children and youth with cerebral palsy. The Delphi survey, along with available literature, is Integral to building consensus to inform the content of the guidelines.
    Chief Investigator:
    • Dr Petra Karlsson – Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute
    • Associate Investigators: Dr Margaret Wallen, Dr Michael Clarke, Dr Elegast Monbaliu, A/Prof Kate Himmelmann, Mr Tom Griffiths, Mrs Claire Galea, Mrs Rene Pereskles, Mrs Abigail Allsop, Ms Saranda Bekteshi
    • Funding information: Perpetual; Roger Montgomery Family Trust, 2018
    • Accurate cognitive assessment of people with cerebral palsy (CP) is necessary to target interventions for communication, social participation, and education. Current assessments require speech or motor ability, so are unsuitable for people with significant physical disability. Some assessments can be adapted for Eye-Gaze Interface (EGI) (requiring only eye movements) and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) (requiring no movement). These interfaces are promising options for cognitive assessment. This study compares EGI with BCI in administering a vocabulary test to determine which more effectively accommodates people with multiple impairments. Children and adults with CP in the United States and Australia will compare the interfaces.
      Investigators:
      • Dr Jane Huggins, Prof Seth Warschausky, Dr Petra Karlsson
      • Funding information: Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, 2016