Professor of Psychology and Rehabilitation
School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies
New Zealand’s rapidly ageing population means more and more people will be needing rehabilitation for brain injuries and other neurological conditions in the future. So Professor of psychology and rehabilitation, Richard Siegert at AUT, is developing innovative self-management solutions for brain injury patients.
Trained as a clinical psychologist at Waikato University Professor Siegert then went on to complete his PhD at Victoria University which examined the relationship between psychiatric symptoms and social support in unemployed people. A major component of that PhD research concerned the development of psychometrically robust measures for assessing complex psychological and behavioural constructs among disadvantaged groups. Since his PhD a lot of the work he has done has been in neurorehabilitation and the measurement of it. His focus is on patients with complex and chronic conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and also cancer and palliative care.
His past research has looked at cognition and emotion in MS, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease, focusing on brain and behaviour links and what we can learn about the health of the brain from brain injury. More recently his work and research has focused on goal-setting in rehabilitation and the measurement of meaningful rehabilitation outcomes for people with TBI, stroke and other neurological conditions. He says the industry is now moving away from disability and impairment measures to measures of engagement, participation and community integration. The acid test for recovery is really how full a life TBI patients are leading he says. Currently he’s working on introducing a set of standardised measures, using modern statistical approaches, for people who require rehabilitation.
Professor Siegert is closely linked to AUT’s Person-Centred Research Centre and it’s within this centre that he’s carrying out his work on the role of self-management for TBI patients. For example they are currently trying to find funding to explore the use of mindfulness meditation techniques with people after a brain injury. His team is working on how to tailor rehabilitation techniques so they can be used for patients with specific needs. Following this work he says there also needs to be more training for professionals to work with these models.
Professor Siegert has worked in hospitals around the world including Queen Square Hospital in London. He’s spent time researching and lecturing at King’s College in London and Melbourne University while on sabbatical and worked for the Department of Corrections as a clinical psychologist. He’s closely linked with ABI Rehabilitation in Auckland (NZ’s largest private provider of neurorehabilitation), the Burwood Academy of Independent Living in Christchurch and the New Zealand Disability and Rehabilitation Research Alliance.
In the future he’d like to research robust scientific outcome measures for people with complex cognitive problems. He would also like to research brief interventions, like meditation and mindfulness, for people with neurological conditions.
He’s an associate member of the Society for Research in Rehabilitation, and a current member of the International Neuropsychological Society as well as an active member of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.