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Clinical research

At Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust, we are dedicated to promoting excellence in research, translating evidence into clinical practice, and providing ongoing community education. We aim to engage end-users in all aspects of our research, prioritising meaningful co-design and collaboration.

We are currently engaged in research with the University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, and the Department of Corrections.

Our research has been featured in the following online publications:

  1. MedTech CoRE - Using games to create rehab tools
  2. New Zealand Rehabilitation Association Blog
  3. MedTech CoRE - Relearning yourself after a traumatic brain injury

Below is a summary of some of our current ongoing research and publications. If you are interested in participating in research our collaborating with our team, please email Katie Hodge.

Virtual reality rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury

Virtual reality is a motivating way to engage individuals in rehabilitation. Real-world stressors and hazards can be simulated safely. We are developing a virtual reality environment in collaboration with Nadia Thorne from Cerebral Fix, a major software gaming studio in Christchurch, Jo Nunnerly (Burwood Academy of Independent Living) and Marcus King (Callaghan Innovation). This project is possible thanks to funding from the MedTech CoRE.

Virtual Reality Project

Brain injury screening in Christchurch men’s prison youth services

Research has shown that a brain injury independently predicts future criminal behaviours, imprisonment, and repeat offenses, worsened if appropriate medical care or rehabilitation is not provided. Therefore, we are investigating how many individuals in a youth offender unit have a history of brain injury. We are helping develop pathways to ensure they receive appropriate screening, education and rehabilitation. We are collaborating on this project with the Christchurch Men’s Youth Unit / Department of Corrections. This project is possible thanks to funding from the Lottery Community.

Rehabilitation for sense of smell

Sense of smell is important not only for enjoyment, such as smelling foods and scents, but also for safety, such as smelling smoke or food that has gone bad. Smell loss occurs in many individuals following traumatic brain injury, however, there are currently limited treatment options. We are investigating a treatment programme for individuals with a loss of smell.

Working memory training

Working memory (WM) allows temporary storage of information in the brain during processing and is important for attention and problem-solving. WM can be impaired following a brain injury, negatively affecting functioning at home and work. We are evaluating a computer-based WM training (e.g. CogMed) in individuals recovering from brain injury. This project is possible thanks to funding from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation.

Conference contributions

42nd Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI) Conference, 2019

Long-term follow-up of moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury in the Canterbury region. Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge

Meeting Unmet Needs: Education and Support for Adult Family Members of Individuals with Brain Injury. Nic Ward, Nalita Naidu, Siobhan Palmer

Post-traumatic Parkinsonism following severe traumatic brain injury: A case report. Kristin Gozdzikowska

Peer support following traumatic brain injury: Efficacy and impact of client-led group programmes. Eleanor Jackson, Peta Mann, Kristin Gozdzikowska

Y do I ACT like this: Adjusting to changes in sense of self after traumatic brain injury. Signe Wiingard, Siobhan Palmer, Nic Ward

Dysphagia following moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury. Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katherine Williams

Emerging Tech in Health Symposium, 2019

Virtual Reality Rehabilitation following Traumatic Brain Injury. Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge, Marcus King (Callaghan Innovation), Riley Stockwell (Cerebral Fix), Nadia Thorne (Cerebral Fix), Jo Nunnerley (University of Otago, BAIL)

6th Annual Asia-Oceanian Conference of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine, 2018

Return to Work Following Moderate-to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge, Pat Hopkins, Nic Ward

Behavioural Indicators of Emerging Consciousness following Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: A Case Series. Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge

Demographic Characteristics of Moderate-to-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Canterbury. Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge

New Zealand Rehabilitation Conference, 2017

Seamless Transition from Inpatient Facility to Community. Pat Hopkins, Delwyn Eden, Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge

Health Care Providers: Return to Work Following Traumatic Brain Injury. Pat Hopkins, Kristin Gozdzikowska, Katie Hodge

Physiotherapy New Zealand Conference, 2016

Interactions with community health providers following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation: The experience of individuals with spinal cord injury. Kathryn Dwyer, Dr Hilda Mulligan (University of Otago)


  • Moora, S., Willimana, J., Drummonda, S., Fultona, C., Mayesa, W., Ward, N., ... Stasiak, K. ‘E’ therapy in the community: Examination of the uptake and effectiveness of BRAVE (a self-help computer programme for anxiety in children and adolescents) in primary care. Internet Interventions, 2019. For access, please see the following link: 'E' therapy in the community

  • Palmer, S. & Dart, A. ‘Does the family become part of the team, or the team become part of the family? An Interview with a father 17 years after brain injury.’ In Family Experience of Brain Injury: Surviving, Coping, Adjusting. Wilson, J., & Holloway, 2019, Routledge.
  • Eden, D., Williams, K., & Gozdzikowska, K. (2019). Working with cognitive communication disorders. Communication Matters, 34, 5.

  • Eden, D., Williams, K., & Gozdzikowska, K. (2019). Education and training in cognitive-communication: A practitioner perspective. Communication Matters, 34, 6-7.

  • Hopkins, P. (2018). Rehabilitation following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. LOGIC (Journal of the New Zealand College of Primary Health Nurses), 2018, 17(1): 27-32. For access, please see the following link: Logic Journal - March 2018

  • Dwyer, K, Mulligan, H. (2017). The experiences of individuals with a spinal cord injury following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. International Journal of Therapy & Rehabilitation, 2017, 24(8):256-64.
  • Dwyer, K, Mulligan, H. (2015). Community reintegration following spinal cord injury: Insights for health professionals in community rehabilitation services in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 2015, 43(3): 75-85.

  • Perniskie E., Ward N., Dalrymple-Alford J., Alberts J., Jansari A., McLoughlin N. Comparison of a Virtual-Reality Test of Executive Function with Standard Executive Function Tests and their Ecological Validity.
  • Graham F, Sinnott K, Snell D, Martin R, Freeman C. (2013). A more "normal" life: Residents', family, staff, and managers' experience of active support at a residential facility for people with physical and intellectual impairments. J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2013, 38(3):256-64.