Background: First Peoples in Australia experience increased risk of acquired brain injury (ABI) and associated cognitive impairments through high exposure to risk factors such as violence, substance misuse, head trauma, chronic illness, and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Despite these higher risks, culturally appropriate tools for identifying cognitive impairment in this group are lacking. Standard cognitive tests typically require written responses and can resemble mainstream educational processes. This can be a disadvantage in populations where English is not the first language, or amongst marginalised groups where poor English literacy and a lack of formal education are common. This paper reports on the development of a cognitive screen for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Method/Development process • The Guddi Way Screen is based on the Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA) and other culturally appropriate cognitive screening methods. • The screen is a culturally developed and culturally sensitive process to screen for possible brain injury and cognitive impairment associated with challenges in attention; orientation; verbal comprehension; verbal fluency; recall; abstraction; and executive function. • Pilot project in an Indigenous sentencing court to understand the utility and feasibility of the process. • Cultural validation and development of processes undertaken with Community Elders. Results: Preliminary testing indicates that the screen is sensitive to brain injury and cognitive impairment. Conclusions: The Guddi Way Screen shows promise as a culturally validated engagement and screening process to identify cognitive impairment. A large validation study is planned for 2020.
Adjunct Associate Professor Jennifer Cullen, Chief Executive Officer of Synapse. Jennifer has over 27 years’ experience working in disability and aged care services, including working with prisoners and ex-prisoners with complex disability. Jennifer is a descendant of the Wakka Wakka and Bidjara people
Dr Michelle McIntyre is a Senior Research Fellow at Synapse and an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University. Over the last ten years, Dr McIntyre has been involved in research across a variety of areas disability and rehabilitation, health care complexity, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and the court system. She is currently working with the Murri Court which allows Elders and respected community members to support Aboriginal people during criminal trials.
Dr Bohanna’s research seeks to address the needs of people with Traumatic Brain Injury, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians living in rural and remote communities. For the last decade Dr Bohanna has worked in regional, rural and remote areas of north Queensland and the Northern Territory. She is also involved in collective impact research, co-designing a community-based service model for rehabilitation and lifestyle services in Far North Queensland.