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Curtin graduate highlights spinal cord injuries

Media release

C030/10

Outstanding Curtin University of Technology physiotherapy graduate, Melita Morriss, has excelled with her research on spinal cord injuries and is one of the top ranked students graduating with First Class Honours.

Twenty-two-year old Ms Morriss, of Palmyra, will graduate this month at a ceremony at Curtin’s Bentley Campus.

 “I was especially interested in finding new treatments for people who suffer from pain due to damaged nerves (neuropathic pain) as a result of spinal cord injury,” she said.

“There is currently no consensus on how to best manage this type of pain for spinal cord injury patients, and no one knows the primary reason for this pain.

“Virtual and imaginary exercises are new areas of treatment being investigated but recent studies have produced contradictory results.

“My research involved using imaginary exercises with mirrors to see if this type of treatment could modify the pain experienced by patients.”

Ms Morriss’ research concluded that imaginary exercise was likely to lower neuropathic pain in spinal cord injury patients at the specific site of the imaginary movement and that concurrent visual feedback may be an avenue for further research.

Other physiotherapy honours students graduating this month investigated many other research topics reflecting the diversity of the profession.

Ruth Chang measured bone density in golf and netball players, while Alethea Ang surveyed physiotherapy students about their opinions and experiences in relation to sexual boundaries with their clients.

Other research topics included sports injuries, exercise for children with cerebral palsy, cross cultural awareness and the management of pain.

Ms Morriss is currently working in private practice and is looking forward to gaining more practical experience.

“Working with patients is something I really enjoy and after this I hope to go on to postgraduate study and further my research into spinal cord injury,” she said.

“I am very passionate about physiotherapy as a career and Curtin provided an excellent learning environment.”