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Hope For Spinal Cord Injury Cure Boosted by Research Investment


Facts and figures:

Nationally, around 12,000 Australians are living with a spinal cord injury (SCI).

Around 80 per cent of newly reported cases are accident related.

Car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury, followed by falls, being struck or colliding with a person or object, water-related activities and other sporting injuries.

Why it matters:

In 2018, a breakthrough study by NeuRA’s Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin found that half of all people suffering from a complete spinal cord injury still have surviving somatosensory pathways at the level of the spine.

The study also found that the brains of people with paraplegia registered a signal when their toes were stimulated, despite not being able to feel them.

Since then recently worked with international researchers to develop the world’s first virtual reality walking interface – called the AVATAR Project – which allows people with a spinal cord injury to move in a virtual environment.

What the minister had to say:

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard

“The allocation of the $15 million will be merit-based and researchers will need to demonstrate how their work will benefit patients in NSW.”

“This investment will allow SCI researchers from a variety of disciplines to collaborate and deliver their benchtop research to the bedside and beyond.”

NeuRA’s Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin

“The finding has received significant attention from researchers and medical professionals around the world.  For the first time, individuals who thought they could not move or feel below the site of their spinal injury have the potential to feel again.”

“New funding from the NSW Government will enable Australia to take a leading role in the development of new methods of treatment like the AVATAR Project to dramatically improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injury.”


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