3 new La Trobe COVID-19 projects begin

3 September 2020

Release date 28 August 2020

La Trobe University researchers are rapidly embarking on ways to improve community health and wellbeing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with new targeted grants from La Trobe, Medibank and Optus.

Called the ‘Rapid Response Research’ grants, three new projects will receive a total of $250,000 to investigate the mental and physical health impacts of working from home, telehealth physiotherapy rehabilitation for cancer survivors and virtual care technologies.

The grants will target projects requiring a rapid turnaround and with an immediate impact. All three projects will be completed by February 2021.

La Trobe Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement) Professor Susan Dodds said the research will resonate with the health sector as well as individuals feeling the impact of COVID-19 in their lives.

“These projects exemplify La Trobe’s guiding principle of working with and for our communities, to achieve tangible outcomes that benefit the world,” Professor Dodds said.

“Together with partners, Optus and Medibank, we’re bringing our expertise to improving health and wellbeing in Australia, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

“These are uncertain times globally. Quality university research projects are crucial to solving the challenges we face now, and in the future.”

Dr Linda Swan, Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer and executive lead of the Medibank Better Health Foundation, said COVID-19 has presented some unique problems for many in the community, and the brightest minds are needed to come up with a solution.

“Diseases like cancer don’t stop for a pandemic, so how do we ensure immune compromised patients still have access to vital physiotherapy and exercise sessions from home. While telehealth and virtual homecare services have been around for a while, COVID-19 has seen demand greatly increase and more user-friendly options are now required by patients, clinicians and hospitals,” said Dr Swan.

“There are also serious health and wellbeing concerns stemming from working from home long term. These are conversations between employers and their people that you couldn’t have imagined having six-months ago. As a community we need to know more about the impact,” she added.

Deon Liebenberg, Optus Business Vice President Product Innovation, said: “We are pleased to be part of this timely and important work from La Trobe University. Mental health is critical to maintaining productivity, and we believe La Trobe’s efforts will contribute to a stronger workforce and help better understand and support the new ways of remote working.”

Funded projects include:

Mental and physical health impacts of working from home

Telerehabilitation for cancer survivors

Virtual care technologies

Read more about the funded projects in the original media release. 


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