Acquired brain injury

Epworth has specialist acquired brain injury rehabilitation (or ABI rehabilitation) units located at Epworth Richmond and Epworth Camberwell.

The unit is internationally recognised for its expert care and innovative research programs. The inpatient and outpatient programs provide trauma rehab for people from the early stages after emerging from a coma through to addressing issues relating to their return to community living.
Led by Professor John Olver, the first rehabilitation professor in Australia, the team includes highly specialised therapists and nurses who, alongside patients and families, develop goals aimed at maximising a person’s level of independence following acquired brain injury (ABI).

Using a patient oriented system of team work, individual and group therapy programs are instituted for both inpatients and outpatients using the latest techniques and equipment for cognitive and physical ABI rehab.

A key element of the program is that patients are followed up for many years following initial presentation, enabling early identification and management of difficulties that can occur following resumption of normal life.

For referrals and enquiries:


rehabilitation-digital-referral.pdf Use our digital referral form and submit it online

Call        1300 46 REHAB


Fax         03 9982 6696


Evidence based care

abi-evidence.jpgEpworth is committed to researching the best practices for patients suffering traumatic brain injury. More than 20 ABI therapists at Epworth have undertaken postgraduate study in the following areas:

  • Participation at school following Brain Injury - PhD research by Speech Pathologist Margaret Mealings, aimed at exploring the perspectives of students returning to study following acquired brain injury, in particular to explore the impact on their sense of self and well being in the context of their school participation.

  • Consequences of olfactory (sense of smell) impairment following brain injury - PhD by Speech Pathologist Melanie Drummond.  The study aims to develop a ‘best practice’ protocol to facilitate reliable screening for the presence of anosmia (olfactory impairment) in individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

  • Returning to driving - PhD completed by Occupational Therapist Pam Ross, looked at outcomes for patients returning to driving following brain injury.

  • A pilot study to evaluate a road trauma education program - joint research project between Jeremy Buckmaster, Occupational Therapist and Casey Brownlie, Social Worker. The current study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an existing road trauma program aimed at school aged students, recognising that patients admitted post road trauma typically are aged under 25 with the highest sub group being males aged 19 to 21. This supports consideration of educational programs targeting adolescents.

  • Gait retraining methods following brain injury - research project completed by physiotherapist Liz Moore.  This project examined the best ways to retrain walking following an acquired brain injury.

  • Factors influencing activity levels following discharge home - research project by physiotherapist Megan Hamilton which looked at how active patients were once they left the hospital setting following ABI rehab.

  • Comparing use of gold standard movement based technology to low cost methods in developing a clinical tool for the assessment of arm movements in people with neurological conditions - Research project by Michelle Kahn, Physiotherapist.

Accolades and achievements

Associate Professor Gavin Williams, has led the way in neurological rehabilitation research at Epworth for the past 18 years. The specialist physiotherapist has developed a program to teach advanced gait and running skills to people with neurological injuries. This neuro rehab program led to his doctoral studies titled ‘The development of a high-level mobility assessment tool (HiMAT) for people with traumatic brain injury’. Since that time he has been a post-doctoral research fellow focusing on the assessment, classification and treatment of mobility limitations following traumatic brain injury.

Gavin was awarded fellowship to the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2011. He has more than 30 peer reviewed journal publications and over 50 international and national conference presentations. He was also involved in the development of a new classification system for paralympians which was implemented at the London 2012 Paralympics. Gavin currently holds a NHMRC post-doctoral research fellowship.