Take 10 with... Lynley Bradnam

Associate Professor Lynley Bradnam from the Department of Exercise Sciences gives us 10 minutes of her time to discuss her research into dystonia and her focus on finding solutions that will improve people's wellbeing and quality of life.

Associate Professor Lynley Bradnam, Department of Exercise Sciences
Associate Professor Lynley Bradnam, Department of Exercise Sciences

1.  Describe your research topic to us in 10 words or less.

Exploring the mystery of the neurological disorder, dystonia.

2.  Now describe it in everyday terms!

I’m interested in understanding the brain mechanisms causing the neurological movement disorder, dystonia and how living with dystonia impacts on function and participation so we can devise better treatments and management strategies.

3.  What are some of the day-to-day research activities you carry out?

Day-to-day I conduct experiments, analyse data, meet with collaborators and research students, write grant applications and research papers, and read journal articles.

4.  What do you enjoy most about your research?

Working with people who live with dystonia to identify research problems that have significance and impact for them. I enjoy conducting studies that address meaningful issues and research outcomes that raise awareness of dystonia and have potential to improve well-being and quality of life.

5.  Tell us something that has surprised or amused you in the course of your research.

My biggest surprise was when we decided to try neuromodulation of the cerebellum in cervical dystonia as a novel treatment intervention and it worked! Only for some people, but still….it was exciting to think we may be onto something.

6.  How have you approached any challenges you’ve faced in your research?

I keep believing in myself and the purpose of the research, concentrate on the ‘wins’ rather than the ‘losses’ and keep things in perspective. I make sure I utilise my unique experience as both neuroscientist and physiotherapist.

7.  What questions have emerged as a result?

My research has morphed from investigating aberrant brain mechanisms underpinning dystonia to a more person-centred focus highlighting the impact on wider physical and psychological function.

Recent work has revealed balance and gait dysfunction, visual over-compensation and reduced vision-related quality of life. Current studies investigate physical activity and sedentary behaviours in the dystonia population and the impact of exercise on symptoms.

8.  What kind of impact do you hope your research will have?

Raising awareness of functional impairments, activity limitations and the debilitating non-motor symptoms experienced by people living with dystonia, to improve their management and rehabilitation. The utopian vision is an early-intervention, interprofessional clinical service for movement disorders.

9.  If you collaborate across the faculty or University, or even outside the University, who do you work with and how does it benefit your research?

I collaborate with several colleagues in the Movement Neuroscience Laboratory and my main collaborator in the Department is Dr Rebecca Meiring.

My primary collaborations outside of the University are; Professor Teresa Jacobson Kimberley, Director of the Brain Recovery Lab, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston USA, Professor Arianne Verhagen and Dr Alana McCambridge from the University of Technology Sydney and Associate Professor Chris Barr, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

These collaborations, amongst others, provide important interprofessional expertise to address a range of physical and psychological aspects of dystonia. We also collaborate to conduct multi-centre trials where possible to increase the numbers of participants in our studies.

10.  What one piece of advice would you give your younger, less experienced research self?

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (from Winnie the Pooh).