13 Nov 2012

Neuro-psychology study to help Maori

6:33 am on 13 November 2012

A Maori clinical psychologist has received one of New Zealand's top health research fellowships to help improve rehabilitation outcomes for Maori patients following a stroke or head injury.

Dr Margaret Dudley of Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri and Ngati Kahu is a Maori health researcher at AUT University specialising in neuro-psychology. She will receive $375,234 for her research project over three years.

She says it will give other neuro-psychologists direct information about Maori during their assessments, and develop Maori-focused standards for thinking and cognitive performance, as opposed to data that has been used based on New Zealanders of European descent.

Health Research Councilfigures show Maori have a high incidence of traumatic brain injury - almost three times the rate of any other ethnic group in New Zealand.

Dr Dudley will be recruiting fit Maori candidates to base her experiments on.

She says it's important that the facts are taken from a healthy Maori population, so when they sustain a brain injury, health professionals can compare their performance to a robust database and find what specific problems need to be managed.

Dr Dudley says the research has been a long time coming and is probably one of the reasons why there is a big disparity between recoveries in Maori and Pakeha patients with brain damage.

Including Dr Dudley's fellowship, the HRC has awarded a total of $1,248,082 to help Maori health researchers progress their careers and improve health results for Maori.