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People suffering from Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) might soon be looking to Australia for new standards for rehabilitation and, before long, maybe even a cure.

Until recently, repairing the spinal cord was considered impossible. Thanks to a new noninvasive procedure, people around the world now have reason to believe that a cure is just a matter of time. And the cure might very well come from Down Under.

The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has announced, that they will be leading a new research program based on groundbreaking discoveries from the USA, expected to commence in 2017. The Australian SCI community is already adjusting to the fact that rehabilitation is about to change drastically and rehab-centers all over the country are preparing to be first-movers as a cure could be developed in Australia.

Sargood Foundation launches new innovative rehabilitation resort

As new hope for the paralyzed has everyone talking, the community already takes action. The Sargood Foundation is in charge of the more than 100-year-old rehabilitation resort Collaroy, which has been a “place of healing” since 1916. The Sargood Foundation aims to support people with a spinal injury in their endeavor to play an equal role in society. A key function of the foundation is to raise funds to support Sargood on Collaroy.

Due to be re-opened in December 2016 as the Sargood on Collaroy the rehabilitation centre promises to have expert staff ready, who are up to date with the latest research and evidence-based innovations in spinal injury management. With a fully equipped therapy area and gymnasium they will enable people suffering from SCI to take their rehabilitation and training to a higher level. One of their goals is to be recognised globally as the place, where people with a spinal cord injury want to come to refresh, learn and connect.

At Pressalit Care we are happy to be a part of this project, as several of our products will be used throughout its 17 specialist bathrooms and kitchens. We feel that our core values “Be responsible – have impact – act united” will flow through the physical part of Sargood on Collaroy but also be represented in the atmosphere.

What to expect at Sargood on Collaroy

The vision of Sargood on Collaroy is to be a place to recover and stay with one’s family whilst adjusting to home, work and community life following spinal injury. People will be able to stay at Sargood on Collaroy while waiting for wounds to heal and take advantage of all it has to offer. Sargood on Collaroy will also provide a non-hospital environment for pressure wound healing and other health related issues.

  • Sargood on Collaroy will offer opportunities for the development of:
    New work/vocational skills
  • Education for the self-management of health and well-being and resilience training
  • Psychological support
  • Family/carer education
  • Relationship support
  • Opportunities for community engagement.

Sargood on Collaroy will be operated by Royal Rehab, a leading spinal injury rehabilitation service in New South Wales, which has been working with people with a spinal cord injury at its specialist center in Ryde since 1967.

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Project Edge aims for a cure

The opening of the Sargood on Collaroy will succeed another Australian milestone in the SCI community. In mid-September 2016 UCLA-based neuroscientist Reggie Edgerton presented his latest discoveries and Project Edge at a research funding event at University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Edgerton and his team recently have managed to re-awaken the spinal cord and successfully restore feeling and function to over 20 paralyzed people using neurostimulation. It is believed to be the first time voluntary leg movements have ever been relearned in completely paralyzed patients without surgery. Project Edge is the next step in building on these results and a partnership between Edgerton and Bryce Vissel, Professor of Neuroscience at the UTS in close collaboration with SpinalCure Australia and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.

“After meeting with Bryce and the team at UTS, I came to the view that UTS is the only program, worldwide, that together with our established program in the US, has the capacity, commitment, breadth of expertise and community support to develop the technology and take it forward to the next phase” Edgerton said at the official launch of the partnership, according to UTS Newsroom.

His partner Prof. Vissel commented: “Every day in Australia another person is paralyzed from a spinal injury due to a vehicle accident, sporting injury or simple fall. Promising therapies such as Prof. Edgerton’s, will finally be tested with people here, who so desperately need them. We will take a multi-disciplinary approach and collaborate with a broad range of scientists, designers and engineers at UTS to deliver real solutions.”

40 years of research leads to functional return

Neurostimulation is the process of using gentle electrical currents to stimulate the spinal cord below the point of injury, enabling nerve circuits in the spinal cord to ‘hear’ and act upon messages coming from the brain. Neurostimulation provides pain relief by disrupting the pain signals traveling between the spinal cord and the brain. In other words, it outsmarts your pain.

The history of paralysis research is littered with overhyped promises and false hopes. But many physicians and patient advocates say Edgerton’s work is one of the first approaches that may actually help large numbers of patients in the near future. Edgerton has been teaching and conducting research at UCLA for over 40 years and is very passionate about his work towards finding a cure for SCI. After decades of research this is the first time a therapy has resulted in actual functional return in chronic injuries.

The wider spinal cord injury recovery program at UTS will involve other research avenues, such as exercise, inflammatory response control, cell therapies and bionics/robotics. It is thought that a more comprehensive cure will likely involve a combination of treatments.

It is safe to say that the encouraging results and the establishment of Project Edge provide continued evidence, that spinal cord injury may no longer mean a life-long sentence of paralysis.

At Pressalit Care we honor the power that comes from combining advances in biological research with technological innovation and we look forward to follow the growing SCI community and the results of Project Edge.

Visit Project Edge http://www.projectedge.org.au
Visit The Sargood Foundation http://www.sargoodfoundation.org.au
Visit Sargood on Collaroy http://www.royalrehab.com.au/sargood-on-collaroy/

Understanding spinal cord injury

According to WHO every year, around the world, approximately 500.000 people suffer a spinal cord injury. In the US alone an estimated 1,8 people live with SCI, the number in Australia is 15,000. 84 percent of Australians living with a spinal cord injury are male and got injured at age 15-24.

The term ‘spinal cord injury’ refers to damage to the spinal cord resulting from trauma (e.g. a car crash) or from disease or degeneration (e.g. cancer). There is no reliable estimate of global prevalence, but estimated annual global incidence is 40 to 80 cases per million population. Up to 90% of these cases are due to traumatic causes, though the proportion of non-traumatic spinal cord injury appears to be growing.

Symptoms of spinal cord injury depend on the severity of injury and its location on the spinal cord. Symptoms may include partial or complete loss of sensory function or motor control of arms, legs and/or body. The most severe spinal cord injury affects the systems that regulate bowel or bladder control, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Most people with spinal cord injury experience chronic pain.