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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2021

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What is assistive technology and how can it help you? | Good health monitoring practices | Pain and pain management series: Part 2 | Farewell Marcus Stafford

RESEARCH

RESEARCH MSWA CLIENT FORUM 2021 Thank you to all those who came along to another informative MSWA Client Forum on 15 September. Special thanks also to our guest speakers who offered us an exclusive window into their respective fields of research and/or professional expertise: / Professor Allan Kermode, The Perron Institute (pictured) / Professor John Mamo, Curtin University / Dr Onno van der Groen, Edith Cowan University / MSWA Respiratory Physiotherapy team / Vanishree Chetti, MSWA Manager Nursing / Geoff Hutchinson, MSWA Manager Customer Engagement 6

SPOTLIGHT ON: ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR LUCINDA BLACK Lucinda Black is a nutrition researcher at Curtin University. MSWA has been investing in her vital neurological research since 2016. “The people with MS I’ve met are so enthusiastic about making positive changes in their lives. And, as a researcher, that’s really inspiring for me as well.” LUCINDA'S RESEARCH JOURNEY “I started working in research about 15 years ago,” explains Associate Professor Lucinda Black. “I was focusing on vitamin D and it led me to the study of multiple sclerosis, because there is a link between low vitamin D status and higher risk of MS. At the time, there was a big gap in knowledge around MS and diet in general. I realised there was an opportunity to develop stronger evidence.” Lucinda is currently leading a research program in diet and MS, here in WA. She explains that the program has two areas of focus: “One is to help strengthen the evidence we have around diet and MS so that we can better understand what diets, foods or nutrients might be beneficial for people. The second is sharing the information in a clear and accessible way. “There’s a lot of confusing information presented online and it’s very hard to navigate for anyone, but especially for people who might be under stress because they’ve had a serious diagnosis. So we’re designing an online diet education program. It’s tailored to people with MS, which is key.” Lucinda reveals that the education program is being co-designed by people with MS to ensure it reflects their needs, engages them, and ultimately educates them on ways to improve their day-to-day lives whilst living with a neurological condition. “What’s really exciting is that people with MS in WA have been so keen to be involved in research. They are volunteering their time, they have experience, they have knowledge and ideas. Without that input, we wouldn’t be producing such highquality research.” MSWA’S INVESTMENT MSWA began funding Lucinda Black’s research in 2016. “It was around that time that I’d identified that there was a lot of misinformation about diet in relation to MS, so I proposed a project that would help strengthen the evidence around it,” says Lucinda. “It was MSWA that funded that first project and, since then, through help from MSWA, I’ve developed a research team that now includes staff, students and many national and international collaborators, so we’re able to conduct impactful research, right here in WA.” KEEPING IT LOCAL Lucinda explains that there’s a really positive feeling amongst herself and other WA-based neurological researchers because of MSWA’s support. “Because of the high level of funding, we’re able to start research here. We may take it nationally – there might be multi-centre trials – but the research will always start in WA and that’s a real benefit for people living with neurological conditions here.” Lucinda says the Western Australians who take part in her research are a major part of what drives her. “What I’ve found is that people with MS are so interested and engaged. They are passionate about making changes in their own lives to help manage their disease. I find it really inspiring to be around people who are so proactive. It gives me hope for a positive future for people with MS and other neurological conditions.” Lucinda says she was thrilled about MSWA’s recent record-breaking funding announcement. “MSWA has funded my research for the past six years and they’ve just announced a huge contribution of m to neurological research this year. I’m absolutely delighted to be part of this funding. It couldn’t be a better time to be a researcher for neurological conditions in WA.” Lucinda will use this year’s funding to continue to grow a strong team here in WA who are working to answer the many unanswered questions people have about the role of diet in the onset and progression of MS. 7