Newsletter March 2019

Welcome to our March Newsletter

Independent Rehabilitation Services has hit the ground running in 2019, we have welcomed five new staff to our team:

  • Occupational Therapists Shannon Rothschild, Georgia Riley, Kate Thomson
  • Physiotherapists Stephanie Ng, Anna Karlik

We are also thrilled to welcome Danni Gould, Physiotherapist back to our team on 18 March.

It is always encouraging to hear and celebrate client achievements. Our clinicians work hard to support clients to achieve their goals and it’s always lovely to hear positive reports. Look out for the photos and brief articles that clients shared with us recently.

As always, positive culture underpins all of our work and IRS will continue to support our clients to reach their full potential.


Victorian Allied Health Research Conference Presentation
On 22 March, Pip Wilson our Deputy Occupational Therapist, Team Leader will be presenting at the Victorian Allied Health Research Conference on our Peer Support Program “More than just a Buddy”. Pip will share the IRS’ experience in implementing and refining our successful IRS Buddy/Peer Support Program.

COMPASS Workshop
During 2019, we hope many of you join us at our professional development sessions.  In January, twelve Speech Therapists joined us for the COMPASS workshop – an assessment tool for professionals supporting clinical placements.

Sexuality and Intimacy for people with Acquired Brain Injuries
Other upcoming events include Sexuality and Intimacy for people with Acquired Brain Injuries, this session for health professionals will be presented by Anita Brown-Major on 28 March
Register Now

Using Google Calendar to Improve Memory and Organisation after Brain Injury
A half day workshop is scheduled on 18 June to address Memory and Organisation after Brain Injury. This half-day workshop will provide an opportunity for allied health professionals to develop skills in using Google Calendar as a memory-rehabilitation approach, based on best-practice evidence.
Register Now

At IRS, we specialise in working with clients with ABI/ TBI, stroke and progressive neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, and Cerebral Palsy.

Please contact us on telephone 9885 2533 or visit our website if you would like to make a referral.

Celebrating Client Success – Ray Krstic

My name is Ray Krstic. I am 66 years old and was born in a small village in Serbia.

I love the outdoors and have always loved to be beside a mountain stream with a fishing rod in my hands. I played competitive soccer until I was 60 and became a golf fanatic in the last twenty years.

A car accident in 2014 put a stop to all that and I am lucky to be alive. I spent 14 months in hospital. At first I could only move my eyes and communicated by blinking. I have had to relearn to breathe, swallow, speak and move every part of my body.

Thanks to the expert help of my therapists,I am making very slow but steady progress. My occupational therapists Emily, Ashleigh and Meaghan have worked hard with me in the last two and a half years and liaised with Solve and a recreation specialist Alison to help me return to fishing.

Down by the Yarra last month I discovered that, with the help of the aids provided, I could not only cast my fishing line into the river but I could even manage to bait the hook myself. This means that I will be able to enjoy fishing with my friends and family, particularly with my kids and grandkids.

My goal is to be able to walk a little distance safely so that I am not confined to fishing only where the wheelchair can take me. I am adventurous and my family are a bit sick of pushing me out of the places where I get bogged.

My physiotherapists Danni and Amy have been working hard with me towards this long term goal. I want to thank all of my therapists and carers for all the torture they put me through to reach my goals. Like them, I will never give up.

Staff Profile

Emma Downey, Physiotherapy Deputy Team Leader & Clinical Mentor

Emma is a Physiotherapist who graduated in 2005 from the University of South Australia. She has worked in the acute care, rehabilitation, and disability sectors both in Australia and in the UK, giving her a wide breadth of experience and knowledge.

Emma developed a special interest in working with people with Acquired Brain injuries, stroke and vestibular disorders.

She enjoys helping clients maximise their recovery and return to the things in life that bring them joy.  She is passionate about teaching and as well as being a clinical supervisor for several years, has run student clinics at Disability South Australia and tutored for La Trobe University.

She is currently undergoing her Masters in Clinical Rehabilitation. Emma was appointed Physiotherapy Deputy Team Leader at the end of 2018.

Outside of work Emma loves getting back to nature; going for hikes, to the beach and skiing in winter.

Staff Profile

Janie Sargeant, Speech Pathologist

Janie completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences / Master of Speech Pathology at La Trobe University in 2016.

Experience gained on university clinical placements, and employment in health administration in the hospital-based rehabilitation setting fuelled Janie’s interest in acquired brain injury, and ultimately led her to working in the community setting.

Janie is passionate about client-centred care and supporting individuals to achieve their goals in order to maximise independence and participation in all aspects of daily life.

Janie has a strong interest in raising public awareness of Speech Pathology services and promoting the role of Speech Pathologists within the community.

Outside of work, Janie enjoys spending time with family and friends, seeing live music, soaking up the sunshine whenever possible, and has a love for art and design.

Australia to adopt International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative( IDDSI)

In May 2019, Australia will adopt the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative( IDDSI) framework and descriptors. The framework has been developed after much research and collaboration across the world and each level is based on evidence.The framework is a continuum and contains levels for fluids as well as foods thus ensuring the safety of patients when both eating and drinking. The common terminology covers all age groups, in all care settings and across all cultures.

The final dysphagia diet framework consists of a continuum of 8 levels (0-7), where drinks are measured from Levels 0 –4, while foods are measured from Levels 3 –7. Refer below. Each level is distinctly identified with a colour, number and a label.

The combination of the 3 identifiers will help to limit errors in prescribing, identifying, preparing and assembling dysphagia diet orders. Levels 3 and 4 are connected between the foods and drinks because the behaviour/characteristics of pureed foods is very similar to that of extremely thick liquids and liquidised foods to that of moderately thick liquids.Accompanying the IDDSI framework are detailed descriptors for both foods and drinks. These documents outline the specific characteristic of the food or liquid of that level, the physiological rationale for the level, reference to any evidence supporting the level and recommended testing methods to be used to ensure the food or liquid in question meets the criteria of that level.

A vast array of resources can be found on the IDDSI website.

Ref: International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative

Staff Profile

Susan Petrie, Occupational Therapist, Senior Clinician, Research Co-Ordinator

Susan recently celebrated 7 years with IRS having joined the team in 2012 directly from Scotland where her extensive experience in psychiatric and neurological rehabilitation was gained from community elderly psychiatry, maximum-security psychiatric hospital, community mental health team, and community rehabilitation service for brain injury, all based in Glasgow.

Susan’s particular area of interest is cognitive and behavioural changes post ABI.  Susan loves community rehabilitation because therapeutic interventions completed in the individual’s own home and local community has the highest likelihood of a being successful, therefore increasing the individual’s independence.

Susan is passionate about managing risk to optimise outcome and leads our risk management processes for both staff and clients.

Susan has published a paper and provided oral and poster presentations at several conferences based on her research into the use of Google Calendar to increase independence in survivors of traumatic brain injury.

In her research coordinator role, Susan works with her colleagues to develop new research ideas and explore grant opportunities. Susan is currently leading the occupational therapy team in a research project to explore whether sensory modulation interventions can reduce behaviours of concern in a community ABI population.

Outside of work, Susan enjoys spending time with her family, watching Formula One, footy and trying her hand at photography.

IRS Receives Sensory Modulation Research Grant

IRS in conjunction with Natasha Lannin (Associate Professor of OT) and Dr. Carla Thompson (Neuropsychologist) have been successful in gaining a research grant from TAC and ethical approval from La Trobe University to explore the use of sensory modulation intervention in a community adult acquired brain injury population to reduce behaviours of concern.

Sensory modulation is the method the brain processes sensory information and uses it to generate behaviours.

Sensory modulation intervention is the use of strategies to help an individual cope with sensory stimuli and to better regulate their behaviour e.g. if a person feels anxious at the shops due to the noise level, but a sense of touch helps them feel calm, then using a weighted blanket on the way to the shops or wearing a weighted vest whilst shopping may help to reduce their anxiety.

We hope to learn more about the effectiveness of sensory modulation interventions for adults with an ABI in reducing behaviours of concern and improving engagement in meaningful activities; how cost-effective this intervention is and capture the perceptions of the occupational therapists providing the intervention.

If you are interested in hearing more about the project or believe you have a client who may benefit from taking part, please contact Susan Petrie (Lead Investigator) for further information via email or 03 9885 2533.

Client Success – Diane Wilson and Surfing

Tell me a little bit about yourself

I’m 28 Years old and moved to Australia from New Zealand in 2009 where I was a full-time housekeeper at a hotel in the city. I was in a car accident in 2014 leaving me in a coma with a shattered pelvis, broken neck and an ABI. I was told I may never walk again.  I didn’t accept that I said “I don’t care how long it takes I WILL walk out of this hospital” and 4 months later I did.How did you come to go surfing with Disability Surfing Australia?  

I’ve always wanted to surf and even bought a surfboard before getting into my accident. My surfboard has been in the garage ever since.
After telling Meaghan (my OT with IRS) about always wanting to surf she told me about Disability Surfing Australia and the opportunity to give surfing a go, so I jumped at the opportunity

What was the best part of the experience? 

Just having a day to live life again and not having anything to do with my rehabilitation or therapies.  Also realising all the hard work I put into physiotherapy is actually paying off and I can actually do more than I realised.

What’s next?   

I would love to try surfing again, I’ll probably go to the (Disability Surfing Australia) session in March. I would definitely recommend this to others, it’s so much fun and helps boost your confidence. This is a Boxed Text block. Use a contrasting background to draw attention to this content.

At IRS, we believe in every person’s potential

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