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Professor Christine Imms

Christine Imms    


Christine is the Apex Foundation Chair of Neurodevelopment and Disability at the University of Melbourne and Director of Healthy Trajectories: A child and youth disability research hub. An occupational therapist researcher, she focuses on collaborative approaches to improve participation outcomes for those with child-onset neuro-disability and their families.

Session Theme: Family of Participation Related Constructs; Participation in diverse life situations, including research

The Family of Participation Related Constructs (fPRC; Imms, Granlund, Wilson, Steenbergen, Rosenbaum & Gordon, 2017) was published following a series of reviews and conceptual papers that explored the evidence for interventions that aimed to improve participation outcomes for those with child-onset disability. The fPRC framework provides a way to think about participation experiences and to plan for how to support changes in participation outcomes. The framework defines participation as having two essential elements: attendance ('being there' in the life situation or activity) and involvement (the experience of participation while attending). The fPRC also describes participation as being situated in a set of related factors, in the environment and the individual, that both influence participation and are influenced by participation experiences. Since its publication the fPRC has been cited in almost 400 papers, across diverse fields. This body of evidence provides us with an opportunity to explore how the framework has been used, and to examine what can be learned from its use about how to improve participation outcomes for all. In this presentation I will provide an overview of the findings from a review of research that has used the fPRC framework. The aim is to use the findings to inform and guide our thinking, practices and policies in support of optimal participation.

Why is the topic of participation important to you?

Participation is a human right, and optimal participation is also the means to living a good life. Young people who grow up experiencing disability, and their families, frequently experience unreasonable restrictions on their participation across many life situations. As an occupational therapist (OT) my career has been focused on working out what is needed to support children, youth and adults with child-onset disability to do the things they want to, need to, or have to do - for me this OT definition is 'participation'. Everyone usually agrees that being able to participate across home, school, work and community settings is important, but we don't always agree, or know, what is needed to ensure equity in participation. My research (which I always do with many other amazing people, never alone) has focused on trying to understand the notion of participation so we can identify how to improve participation for all.

Tell us a little bit about what you personally like to participate in!

I really like my work - I love working in research teams that have people bringing diverse experiences and knowledge, including young people with disability and parents. I love what we can learn together and what we achieve and create together. When I am not working (and sometimes when I am), I love to sail with my husband and family, to read (love a good science fiction saga!) and to do renovations on our home.

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