ESSA announces 2022 Research Grant recipients

20 January 2023

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is proud to award $100,000 in research funding to two worthy recipient groups – Associate Professor Bernie Bissett and Ms Mary Johnson, University of Canberra and their team and Associate Professor Annette Raynor, Edith Cowan University and her team.

A/Prof Bissett and Ms Johnson, supported by project researchers Michelle Bennett, Carol Huang, Louise Gainsford, Allison Maher, Kacie Paterson, Tanya Buettikofer, Andrew Woodward, Madeleine Brady and Julie Cooke, will use their $50,000 grant for their project on Exercise Physiology in COVID recovery: exploring the feasibility and safety of graded exercise therapy in a COVID-Recovery Clinic.

A/Prof Raynor, with researchers Lauren Fortington, Stacey Scott, Sally Casson and Jennifer Grieve, will utilise their $50,000 grant towards their research into A little bit of exercise goes a long way – increasing independence of aged care residents with Parkinson's Disease.

ESSA CEO Anita Hobson-Powell said the organisation had pursued research topics that would support its advocacy efforts for the industry.

“These topics are currently important health imperatives for the government and our health care system,” she said.

“It is imperative that ESSA collaborates with universities in providing research evidence to support the advancement of the professions./

“We congratulate our 2022 ESSA Research Grant winners and look forward to sharing the outcomes of these important and topical projects in the future.

A/Prof Bissett’s project will “analyse the feasibility and safety of graded exercise therapy as a central element of ‘Long COVID’ rehabilitation in our multidisciplinary clinic in Canberra”.

“Around 5 – 10% of COVID survivors experience ‘Long COVID’, with weakness, fatigue and breathlessness frequent problems,” she explained.

“We are using individually tailored assessment, prescription and supervision of graded exercise in our COVID Recovery clinic, and exercise physiologists are at the heart of our multidisciplinary team.

“In many parts of the world there is a resistance to using exercise in recovery from COVID, and a lack of data to inform practice.

“It is crucial that we capture data to demonstrate exercise can be delivered safely in people with Long COVID, as clinicians around the world seek to optimise recovery for their clients.”

The second of ESSA’s 2022 Research Grants will focus on exercise among those with Parkinsons.

“Our project aims to establish the benefits and financial value of providing an exercise physiologist led 12-week exercise program for people with Parkinson’s Disease living in Residential Aged Care,” A/Prof Raynor said.

“Residential Aged Care settings are notoriously under-resourced, with staff under considerable pressure, making it difficult to provide effective exercise to all residents.

“For residents with complex care needs, such as Parkinson’s Disease, the situation is amplified.

“Results from this project will provide the potential physical and social benefits to the resident, the indirect benefits to staff, cost to the organisation and identify critical design features that need to be considered when working with this population.

“Findings will also be translated and disseminated through journal articles and ESSA-led education programs to ensure the AEP workforce is ready to meet future demands and opportunities in this complex area of care using evidence based best practice methods.

This year, ESSA offered two research grants, each to the value of $50,000, available for research commencing in 2023.

Grants are offered in alignment with our vision and mission to enhance performance, health and well-being through the science of exercise and sport; and to lead and promote excellence in exercise and sports science for the benefits of society and the professions.