NeuRA Magazine #21

News

NEW RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS

NeuRA has established a new research partnership with Transurban, launching a dedicated world-class research centre for road safety.

The Transurban Road Safety Centre was officially opened by the Hon Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Minister for Health and Minster for Medical Research. The joint venture brings together Medical Research, Business and Government into a partnership aimed at working together to reduce injury suffered on our roads.a

“This vital research project will better shape road safety priorities and ultimately save more lives – not only on NSW roads but across the country,” Mr Hazzard said.

Injury is the leading cause of death and disability for Australians aged between 1 and 45 years, and road trauma is responsible for a substantial proportion of this problem. The burden of road trauma in Australia is considerable, with around 1,300 deaths and 65,000 hospitalisations each year. Estimates suggest that road trauma costs the Australian government $27 billion annually, however the human costs to families affected by road trauma is immeasurable.

The launch of the Transurban Road Safety Centre at NeuRA is an excellent example of the opportunities and benefits which partnerships can bring to the community, to make roads safer, protect passengers from injury, and ultimately save lives.

See what’s going on at NeuRA

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

Abdominal muscle stimulation to improve bowel function in spinal cord injury

Bowel complications, resulting from impaired bowel function, are common for people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). As a result, people with a SCI have high rates of bowel related illness, even compared with those with other neurological disorders. This includes high rates of abdominal pain, constipation, faecal incontinence and bloating. These problems lower the quality of life of people with a SCI and place a financial burden on the health system. A treatment that improves bowel function for people with a SCI should reduce illness, improve quality of life and lead to a large cost saving for health care providers. Bowel problems have traditionally been managed with manual and pharmacological interventions, such as digital rectal stimulation, enemas, and suppositories. These solutions are usually only partially effective, highlighting the need for improved interventions. The abdominal muscles are one of the major muscle groups used during defecation. Training the abdominal muscles should improve bowel function by increasing abdominal pressure. During our previous Abdominal FES research with people with a SCI, we observed that Abdominal FES appeared to lead to more consistent and effective bowel motion. However, this evidence remains anecdotal. As such, we are going to undertake a large randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of Abdominal FES to improve the bowel function of people with a SCI. This study will make use of a novel measurement system (SmartPill, Medtronic) that can be swallowed to measure whole gut and colonic transit time. We will also assess whether Abdominal FES can change constipation-related quality of life and the use of laxatives and manual procedures, as well as the frequency of defecation and the time taken. A positive outcome from this study is likely to lead to the rapid clinical translation of this technology for people living with a SCI.
PROJECT