Associate Professor Sebastian Doeltgen

Associate Professor

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

place Flinders Medical Centre (7E:543)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

A Speech Pathologist, and seasoned globetrotter, I have spent the last decade studying and researching swallowing disorders, their neuro-pathological correlates and socio-economic impact in Germany, New Zealand and Australia. After graduating in Germany in 2003, I undertook post-graduate study in the field of swallowing rehabilitation at the Department of Communication Disorders, Christchurch, New Zealand from 2005-2009. Until October 2012, I was an NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the field of human neuro-motor control at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, before joining the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Flinders University. My research is driven by the detrimental impact of swallowing difficulties on both a patient's health and their quality of life. It aims to provide basic scientific data, as well as translational approaches toward novel swallowing interventions.

Qualifications

PhD (Speech Language Therapy) (2009)
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

MSLT (distinction) (Speech Language Therapy)
(2006)
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Certified Speech Pathologist (Staatlich anerkannter Logopaede) (2003)
Rheinisch-Westfaelisch Technische Hochschule (RWTH), Aachen, Germany

Honours, awards and grants

I have been involved in research attracting funding from national and international funding bodies in excess of $650,000.

National

2018

"MCR Publication of the Year" - College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University

Appointment to Board of Directors, Dysphagia Research Society

2017

Nutrition & Dietitian Workforce Project – Patient triage for nutritional risk – tool development, NSW Ministry of Health

2016

Prideaux Centre Health Education Research Grant

Flinders Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Project Grant

2014

Flinders Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Seeding Grant

Flinders Medical Centre Foundation Grant

2013
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Co-Investment Grant
Flinders University/Faculty of Health Sciences Conference Scheme Award
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation Seeding Grant
Faculty of Health Sciences Seeding Grant

2012
Flinders University Establishment Grant
Faculty of Health Sciences International Conference Award, University of Adelaide

2011
Faculty of Health Sciences International Conference Award, University of Adelaide

2010
NHMRC Equipment Grant, supported by the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide
NHMRC Postdoctoral Training Fellowship (Australian Biomedical/Peter Doherty)

2009
Faculty of Health Sciences International Conference Award, University of Adelaide

International

2015

1st Place Poster Presenation Award, Annual Meeting of the Dysphagia Research Society (DRS), Chicago, IL

2008
New Investigator Award, Runner Up, Dysphagia Research Society (DRS)
Canterbury Medical Research Foundation International Travel Award

2007
Medical Staffing International - New Zealand Speech Therapy Association Doctoral Award

2006
University of Canterbury Doctoral Scholarship

Key responsibilities

I am passionate about teaching and research in the areas of swallowing rehabilitation and neuroscience. I am the Head of Teaching Section (Speech Pathology) and interim Research Program Coordinator (Speech Pathology). I am also a Councillor on the Board of Direcotrs, Dysphagia Research Society, and a member of the Executive Committee, Centre for Neuroscience at Flinders University. My past roles include Course Coordination of the Master of Speech Pathology program (acting, Feb-July 2014) and membership of the Library Committee (Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences) (2014-2016), School Research Committee (School of Health Sciences) (2014-2016) and DVC-R Early Career Researcher Committee (2013-2016).

Research expertise
Neurosciences
Speech pathology
Research interests

Imagine not being able to swallow! Dysphagia, or disordered swallowing, is a common consequence of brain damage with a reported incidence of up to 70% in stroke survivors alone. In addition to stroke, many neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative conditions can cause swallowing disorders. Even in the ageing general population without acute neurological damage swallowing disorders are common. Dysphagia can lead to the development of serious health complications such as aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration and choking. Individuals of all ages can be affected, from prematurely born infants to the elderly, both of which are vulnerable populations for which these health complications can be fatal.

Dysphagia also significantly impacts on the quality of life of patients and their carers: Imagine not being able to enjoy a meal with family and friends, or constantly having to spit your saliva into a bucket. Overall, Dysphagia results in significant medical, social and health care costs.

Although there is a general understanding of how the complex process of swallowing is orchestrated, many questions about the precise mechanisms of swallowing neuromotor control remain unanswered. This includes questions around the complex sensorimotor processes occurring during swallowing, the precise effects of rehabilitative interventions on swallowing function and neuromotor control mechanisms, and importantly, the changes induced in these mechanisms by nervous system damage.

My research examines some of these questions using assessment tools capable of investigating biomechanical measures of swallowing function and neurophysiological measures of swallowing neuromotor control, including:

  • pharyngeal manometry (measurement of pressure in the throat during swallowing)
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (both are techniques capable of painlessly stimulating neuronal tissue in the human brain through the intact skull)
  • Biofeedback in swallowing rehabilitation
Topic coordinator
SPTH9121 Professional Studies and Communication Sciences
SPTH2906 Professional Studies and Communication Sciences 2B (Voice and Swallowing)
SPTH2908 Clinical Skills and Practice 2B (Voice and Swallowing)
Topic lecturer
SPTH3902 Professional Studies and Communication Sciences: Acquired Language Disorders 2
SPTH2905 Professional Studies and Communication Sciences 1B: Motor Speech Disorders
Supervisory interests
Clinical decision making and case based reasoning
Dysphagia
Human motor control
Neuroplasticity
Patient outcomes
Pharyngeal manometry
Speech pathology
Swallowing disorders
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Higher degree by research supervision
Current
Principal supervisor: Speech Pathology, Swallowing Disorders (1)
Associate supervisor: Speech Pathology, Swallowing Disorders (3), Speech Pathology, Language Disorders (1)
Completion
Associate supervisor: Speech Pathology, Swallowing Disorders (5)
Publications
Expert for media contact
Neuroscience
Neurorehabilitation
Speech Pathology
Swallowing disorders/Dysphagia
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Neuroscience
Interests
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Speech Pathology
  • Swallowing disorders/Dysphagia
Further information

Sebastian is the head of the Swallowing Neurorehabilitation Research Lab at Flinders. The lab was established by Sebastian in the Discipline of Speech Pathology in 2013. Sebastian has had a deep interest and passion for swallowing rehabilitation research and neuroscience ever since his speech pathology undergraduate degree. He is amazed at the body’s ability to coordinate 32 pairs of muscles in just the right time, sequence and intensity to move food and drink from the mouth into the stomach without us ever having to think about it – and all of this in less than one second!

The Swallowing Neurorehabilitation Research Lab is also a member of the Centre for Neuroscience at Flinders University.

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