The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory

The Team at The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory 2017

Researchers

The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory is currently located at Tamaki Campus in the Discipline of Speech Science, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science and sits as one of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Teams in the Centre of Brain Research.

Dr Anna Miles, PhD, a speech-language therapist leads the Swallowing Research Laboratory in close collaboration with Dr Jacqui Allen, a Consultant Laryngologist in the Surgical Department of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Current Research

The Swallowing Research Laboratory at The University of Auckland strives to improve the lives of people with swallowing difficulties through improved assessment, treatment and medical education in the field of dysphagia. The laboratory hopes to reduce the risks of pneumonia and death associated with swallowing difficulties as well as improve the quality of life of people who struggle with this condition.

Relationship to MND

The team currently collects data on patients referred for swallowing assessment across all aetiologies including motor neuron disease. This allows us to assess the specific effects of motor neuron disease on swallowing in comparison to other diseases and to the healthy population. A number of our treatment studies have potential to be effective for people with motor neuron disease and we are currently seeking doctoral funding to support this work.

Collaborations

The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory has strong international collaborations with University California, Davis and University of Queensland among others. Internally, it works between Faculty of Medical Health Sciences, Food Science and Psychology.

Resources

The Swallowing Research Laboratory has an increasing database of videofluoroscopic swallowing studies and endoscopic swallowing studies of people with motor neuron disease carefully mapping swallowing physiology across and within patients.

The Team

The Swallowing Research Laboratory is an enthusiastic group of academics, clinicians, doctoral students, medical students and speech-language therapy students.

Contact

Anna Miles PhD
Speech-language Therapist
Professional Standards Portfolio Holder, Executive Council, New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association
Expert Advisor to New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association (NZSTA) – Adult Dysphagia

Senior Lecturer, Speech Science, School of Psychology
Leading psychological science, scholarship and practice

Tamaki Campus (Bld 721 Rm 314)
261 Morrin Road, Glen Innes
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Phone: +64 9 923 8177 Fax: +64 9 373 7902
Email: a.miles@auckland.ac.nz    Website: www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/

 

 

Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research

Researchers

Paige Thomas, PhD Candidate  (photo provided)
Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research
Department of Communication Disorders
University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Maggie Lee Huckabee
Director of the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research
Department of Communication Disorders
University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Current Research

Paige and the team are conducting a proof of concept study to assess the impact of swallowing skill training protocol in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Currently, patients with ALS are not considered candidates for rehabilitation of swallowing; this is therefore early research into the possible benefits of rehabilitation.

Paige Thomas

The therapy is a skill training protocol for swallowing through the Biofeedback in Strength and Skill Training (BiSSkiT) software. This protocol uses surface electromyography (sEMG) which measures muscle activity from the skins surface and displays it on a computer monitor. SEMG electrodes are placed over the submental muscles which contract during swallowing resulting in a peak in the waveform on the screen. With the use of sEMG, participants are able to visualise and alter their muscle activity while swallowing. To make this task challenging, a target box will appear in a random position on the screen and participants will attempt swallow so that the peak of their swallow waveform lands within the target box. This challenging aspect of the therapy is intended to help to encourage cortical control of swallowing.

Relationship to MND

The research investigates prolonging functional swallowing and quality of life in patients with the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis type of Motor Neuron Disease.

Future Research

The current research is a proof of concept study. Further research will be conducted into swallowing therapy in patients with ALS.

Collaborations

Paige and the team are collaborating with Dr. Sebastian Doeltgen from Flinders University and Dr. Deanna Britton from Portland State University, who is consulting on this project.

Resources

The MND Patient Registry and MND New Zealand are assisting with participant recruitment.

Resource Gaps

More funding for MND research would help to increase both the quantity and quality of MND research in New Zealand.

The Team

Prof. Maggie-Lee Huckabee, senior supervisor of research project, oversees all stages of planning and development of research as well as data collection and analysis. Director of the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research, University of Canterbury.

Dr. Phoebe Macrae, co-supervisor of research project. Deputy Director of the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research, University of Canterbury.

Dr. Michelle Troche, associate supervisor of research project, will oversee data collection in New York. Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Upper Airway Dysfunction, Columbia University.

The Rose Centre

Emma Burnip, Co-investigator, PhD candidate, performing data collection in New Zealand. Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research, University of Canterbury.

Contact

The University of Canterbury Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research
Leinster Chambers, Level One, 249 Papanui Road
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Paige Thomas
p: +64 3 369 2385
e: paige.thomas@pg.canterbury.ac.nz

Prof. Maggie-Lee Huckabee
p: +64 3 369 5124
e: Maggie-lee.huckabee@canterbury.ac.nz