Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville

Hugh Sweatman came to Australia from the UK to study coral reef fishes for his PHD. He has worked on reefs in Australia, the Caribbean, and the Arabian Gulf, studying reef fishes and the crown-of-thorns starfish. Based at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) Townsville, for the past 20 years he has been involved with one of the largest and longest-running reef monitoring programs in the world; tracking changes in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian Icon, and the condition of the Reef is a matter of great interest to the Australian public. Hugh is able to provide an overview of the dynamics and the long-term changes in the GBR coral reefs, and also an update on current research in this area. 

Clinical Director Rehabilitation Services, The Townsville Hospital

Tracey Symmons is a Rehabilitation Physician, and has been based at The Townsville Hospital for the last 10 years. In Townsville, the hyperbaric service and the rehabilitation service are not only close geographically – across the corridor actually - but also share a substantial number of patients and work very well together to get the best results for our patients. 

Tracey has a special interest in amputee rehabilitation and runs a busy interim and definitive amputee service. She is passionate about providing excellent services for our indigenous patients, and also works closely with the North Queensland spinal cord injury service and the stroke services. Prior to Townsville, she was the Deputy Director of a 100 bed Hospital in a remote part of the PNG highlands. Her work included doing many anaesthetics, education, and primary health care including wound care in a resource poor setting.

Tracey is the Chair of the Queensland Branch of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. She has completed a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and now helps coordinate two Masters of Public Health subjects. She strongly believes that to get excellent outcomes, disciplines need to work together and value and understand each others role.

Occupational Therapist – Advanced Skills Vascular Outpatients, The Townsville Hospital

Sue graduated from Queensland University in 1984 after receiving her bachelor degree in occupational therapy. She has worked as an occupational therapist for the past 31 years, 25 of these years here in Townsville at The Townsville Hospital. 

In 1997 she was employed in the role of Occupational Therapist working in the vascular outpatient caseload. For the past 18 years she has developed a leg ulcer clinic which operates, with the support from vascular surgeons, to assist with the healing of patients with venous leg ulcers. Her role also covers the measuring and fitting of compression garments to manage lower limb oedema, DVT management and to prevent ulcer recurrence. 

She enjoys sharing her knowledge on leg ulcer management with any health professional who is keen to learn more about wound care and compression bandaging and works collaboratively with many community health professionals to increase their knowledge and confidence with compression bandaging. 

Outside her professional career she enjoys family life raising her three children and tandem cycling with her husband. 

Dr Ken Thistlethwaite BSc(Hons) MBBS FRACGP(JCCA) is a GP Anaesthetist who has worked in Hyperbaric Medicine at the Wesley Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine and The Royal Brisbane Hospital since 2004. He is the principal investigator in a multi-centred double blinded, randomised, control trial examining the use and effectiveness of Hyperbaric Oxygen in the management of venous leg ulcers. 

Medicare item number 13015, funding for the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of problem wounds and ulcers in non-diabetic patients was withdrawn on the 1/11/2012. Systematic reviews of HBOT have found evidence supports its use for adjunctive treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, however, insufficient evidence exist for other types of leg ulcers. Around 70% of chronic leg ulcers are caused by venous disease and evidence shows compression therapy is an effective treatment. Despite the application of effective compression, 15-30% of venous leg ulcers do not heal and remain unhealed at 1 year. Only one small trial has looked at the impact of HBOT on healing of venous leg ulcers. This trial was under powered but suggested increased healing trajectory rates at the early time points of 2 and 4 weeks. The Wound Management Innovation CRC project 3-02, ‘The Effectiveness of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Healing of Chronic Venous Leg Ulcers’ has been completed. The project is a randomised, double blinded, placebo controlled trial. The results and implications for management including when and how to use Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with this condition will be discussed.