Vision impairments are a concern for up to 80% of patients who have received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). The impact of vision impairments on people with MS can increase morbidity and dependency as they can feel less able to have active lives, which hinders rehabilitation efforts.
GCU research will significantly advance knowledge concerning the visual dysfunction seen in MS, and will guide rehabilitation strategies to help people with this condition. The study will recruit patients with MS and make assessments for visual impairments and functional performance.
The ambitious approach, combining vision and cognition, requires expertise from a multidisciplinary team of experts.
GCU has been ranked top 20 in the UK for allied health research at world-leading (4*) and internationally excellent standards (3*) by the newly released Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results. 89% of GCU’s allied health professions research is world-leading and internationally excellent.
Led by Professor Anita Simmers, researchers with expertise in vision sciences and rehabilitation will analyse the prevalence and functional consequences of visual impairment in MS.
The research has received Bevan Scholarship funding for a joint PhD studentship, working with GCU and the NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s Douglas Grant Rehabilitation Centre, the first purpose-built unit in the West of Scotland to offer a specialist integrated rehabilitation service for people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.
PhD student Rachel McKay, currently Head Orthoptist for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde – South, will also be working with Dr Jenny Preston, who is a consultant occupational therapist also working with the MS specialist centre of the Douglas Grant Rehabilitation Unit, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, and GCU biomechanical engineer Dr Ben Stansfield.
The group has also received funding from the RS Macdonald Trust for research into the impact of visual impairment in multiple sclerosis. The organisation funds research into neurological condition, vision impairments, child and animal welfare.