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Neuroscience Optimised Virtual Environment Living Lab: Using virtual reality and design science to redesign stroke rehabilitation environments

Evidence-based architecture is a new field of endeavour that aims to inform health facility redesign.

Aims

The aim of this project is to develop a model for the redesign and testing of hospital based rehabilitation, integrating new knowledge about brain plasticity and neuroscience with cutting edge architectural solutions to create the ‘ideal’ rehabilitation service

To date, the focus of research has predominantly been on hyper acute (ICU, surgery) environments, with some additional attention paid to special needs groups such as older people requiring institutional care. Between these two very disparate sectors lies an important and expensive area of health care, that of hospital based rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, particularly for those with neurological injury such as brain or spinal cord injury, is often slow and expensive. Innovation is missing from this sector and care models and care environments have remained largely unchanged over the last 30 years.

The aim of this project is to develop a model for the redesign and testing of hospital based rehabilitation, integrating new knowledge about brain plasticity and neuroscience with cutting edge architectural solutions to create the ‘ideal’ rehabilitation service. The ultimate goal would be to see this hospital built in Australia. The project will include using a Design Science framework to determine the needs and requirements of a rehabilitation unit, at the people, organisational, environmental and technological levels specific to neurological patients; using Anylogic software (http://www.anylogic.com/) to model a number of designs for the new and interrogate key design principles and their impact on patients and staff behaviour; conduct real world research using Virtual Reality mock ups of design choices to understand key specific components of the health architecture such as patient rooms, communal spaces, corridors and gymnasiums.

Students will work within the Centre for Research Excellence in Stroke, based at the Florey Institute in Heidelberg.

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