Protecting against brain damage and cerebral palsy

Protecting against brain damage and cerebral palsy

Illuminate newsletter index page, June 2019
June 2019

Dr Samir Taoudi and Dr Alison Farley
(L-R) Dr Samir Dr Taoudi and Dr Alison Farley will
study the relationship between platelets and cerebral palsy.

Research investigating how to protect newborn babies against brain damage and cerebral palsy has been made possible by new funding from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation.

Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood disability impacting more than 34,000 Australians and 17 million people worldwide. It can affect a person’s posture, balance and ability to move, communicate, eat, sleep and learn, with differing levels of severity.

The research, led by Dr Alison Farley and Dr Samir Taoudi, will investigate the role of platelets in protecting against brain bleeds which can cause cerebral palsy. Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that help the body form clots to control bleeding.

Platelet numbers implicated

The researchers suspect that low platelet numbers in developing and newborn babies could result in weakened blood vessels in the brain, predisposing a baby to brain bleeds – also known as prenatal or neonatal stroke.

“We think this could potentially damage the fragile, developing brain, leading to cerebral palsy,” Dr Farley said.

Opportunity for intervention

Dr Taoudi said the researchers would provide new knowledge about the relationship between platelets and the developing brain, to determine what a healthy number of platelets during pregnancy and in newborns should be.

 “This will hopefully provide us with the optimal preventative window to combat stroke and prevent the onset of cerebral palsy,” he said.


Pairing 'consumers' with researchers

Dr Farely's 'consumer buddy' Samantha Chandler said it was fascinating to tour Dr Farley’s lab to hear about how her research had evolved, and how she first linked brain bleeds in developing babies to platelets. 

"It’s fantastic to think that this result could lead to clinical interventions that prevent stroke, and the resulting disabilities which can have lifelong implications for the individual, their family, and the community,” she said.

Consumers interested in working with medical researchers are invited to participate in the Institute's Consumer Buddy Program.   

As a consumer you can: 

  •  Work with a researcher by contributing your life experience
  • Assist researchers with communicating their science in plain language
  • Provide insight into how their research can make a difference in the community
  • Become part of the Institute community with invitations to events and seminars
  • Meet with a your researcher buddy throughout the year for project updates 

More information

To learn more about joining the Consumer Buddy Program, contact consumer coordinator Katya Gray:

Tel: 03 9345 2981


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