Reducing the impact of cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is the world’s most common childhood physical disability, affecting 1 in 700 children, with severity levels ranging from ambulant to wheelchair dependent.
Many children with cerebral palsy experience chronic pain, cannot talk, suffer from epilepsy and have behavioural disorders. There is no cure.
New early interventions show promise in reducing the severity of disability, but early intervention is only possible through early diagnosis in the neonatal period.
Insights into brain development, response to injury and intervention are needed to help design future interventions.
We aim to reduce the severity of cerebral palsy through earlier diagnosis, which will enable earlier, targeted therapy, and by gaining a deeper understanding of neuroplasticity through advanced imaging and artificial intelligence.
We are developing advanced automated neuroimaging techniques and algorithms specifically designed to:
- assess brain growth and abnormality in newborns at high risk of cerebral palsy
- monitor normal and abnormal brain developmental trajectories from birth to school age
- identify subtle brain changes in response to intervention.
We are implementing our tools as a cloud-based service that generates automated quantitative MRI reports.
Our work associating brain pathology and functional connectivity with clinical measures at 2 and 6 years will allow for better prediction of infants’ long-term (i.e., childhood) outcomes.
Additionally, we can use measurements of brain structure and connectivity pre- and post-intervention to determine the effectiveness of different treatments to improve motor and cognitive outcomes.
This has the potential to allow for an earlier diagnosis of high risk for cerebral palsy in the neonatal period. It will also enable the targeted recruitment of infants into clinical trials of neuroprotectants and early interventions.
The Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) is CSIRO's digital health research program and a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government. The AEHRC works with state and federal health agencies, clinical research groups and health businesses around Australia.