25 Jun 2020

Trial to help people with Motor Neurone Disease breathe easier at night receives MRFF funding

Professor Natasha Lannin
A $35.9M boost for rare cancers, rare diseases and unmet medical needs (RCRDUN) was announced 24 June by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt for the Medical Research Future Fund RCRDUN initiative.

Professor Natasha Lannin, who leads the Brain Recovery and Rehabilitation Research Group in the Department of Neuroscience, is an investigator on a project funded by the RCRDUN Initiative. This $3.48M five year project is led by Professor David Berlowitz who is Chair of Physiotherapy (Austin Health) for the University of Melbourne.

Together the investigator team will conduct a trial measuring the effectiveness of non-invasive ventilation during sleep in people who suffer from Motor neurone disease (MND) then develop a comprehensive implementation package to move findings into clinical care.

MND is a rare, neurodegenerative disorder where progressive motor weakness leads to death, usually from respiratory failure. Every day in Australia two people are diagnosed with and another two people die from MND. Although there is no known cure for MND, there are ways to help people with weakened lungs as the disease progresses, with supported ventilation overnight with a breathing machine and mask (non-invasive ventilation, NIV) core to this. Despite its benefit, there are issues with both the uptake and usage of NIV.

Professor Lannin will lead the implementation program within this grant, and together the team will explore the barriers and facilitators to successful implementation of NIV for overnight breathing in patients with MND. Working alongside this important clinical trial, the findings from the implementation program will be used to develop a comprehensive knowledge translation strategy useful for all MND clinics Australia-wide, thereby supporting practice change and enhancing quality of life and survival for patients with MND.

Prof Lannin said, "By undertaking a theory-based process evaluation to look at the drivers of implementation in NIV, we will seek to understand both the clinician and organisational factors that may support an evidence-based approach to intensive NIV. The physiotherapy research team led by Professor Berlowitz have already been investigating the benefits of NIV for many years, and this exciting project will allow us to test an optimal introduction and support program for NIV, including an overnight sleep study, and use this to develop a compendium of implementation strategies to improve uptake of NIV in MND clinics across Australia.

"Having worked in translating research into practice within stroke and brain injury rehabilitation, this grant will see me consolidate my work in implementation science to broader neurological areas which is an exciting next step."

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