Launch of new research centre

Published: Monday 29th February 2016

Australian Catholic University is pleased to announce the new Faculty of Health Science research centre: Centre for Disability and Development Research: Enabling diversity across the lifespan, (CeDDR). Founded by its Directors Professor Christine Imms and Professor Peter Wilson, CeDDR is an international research collaboration dedicated to children with developmental impairments and their families. Childhood onset life-long conditions – for example, cerebral palsy, diabetes, intellectual impairment – are the focus of this work.

Through high impact research that influences practice and policy, CeDDR aims to enable children – whose lives are complicated by disability – and their families to meet the challenges to their development and to provide opportunities for them to thrive. Our overarching theme is: “Enabling diversity across the lifespan”.

ACU’s key international institutional partners in this Centre are McMaster University’s CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research; Radboud University’s Behavioural Science Institute; The Center for Cerebral Palsy Research at Teachers College, Columbia University; and Jonkoping’s CHILD Research Centre. In addition, CeDDR engages with parents and people with childhood-onset conditions as partners in research, including the Cerebral Palsy Support Network.

The multidisciplinary Professorial leadership group of CeDDR includes internationally renowned researchers in the field of childhood disability:

  • Director, Christine Imms, Professor of Occupational Therapy, and winner of the 2015 OT Australia National Research Award;
  • Co-Director Peter Wilson, Professor of Psychology, winner of ‘Best in Category, Digital Design’ at 2015 Premier’s Design Awards;
  • Professor Peter Rosenbaum, a developmental paediatrician from Canada,
  • Professor Bert Steenbergen, movement scientist from the Netherlands,
  • Professor Mats Granlund, developmental psychologist from Sweden, and
  • Professor Andy Gordon, movement scientist from the US.

This leadership group has been working together over the past 18 months to bring CeDDR to life. While the official launch of CeDDR is March 4 2016, on ACU’s Melbourne campus, the fruits of the collaboration are already evident in high impact publications and collaborative research grants developed during this formative period.

Informed by the framework of WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and health (‘the ICF’) the Research Programs of CeDDRencapsulate the vision and themes as follows:

  1. Understanding and optimising participation in people with childhood-onset disability across the lifespan.
  2. II. Multi-modal therapies for children with motor impairments: Studies in this program aim to investigate the effect of interventions that are currently available, that focus on improving activity capacity and performance in children with primary motor impairments such as cerebral palsy.
  3. Mechanisms of motor control, learning and cognition in neurodevelopmental disorders and in children without impairments.
  4. Innovations in motor and cognitive rehabilitation using new technologies. We have developed two innovative virtual-reality based solutions – Elements and Resonance – for rehabilitation in children with neurodevelopmental disorders and in adults with brain injury. These systems have been developed in R&D laboratories at RMIT and ACU, including usability studies. See
  5. V. Parent and family factors in childhood disability. Research within the family domain will occur in collaboration with, and direct application to, the needs of, families raising a child with additional care needs due to childhood onset impairment.

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