NeuRA Magazine #31


In October, NeuRA launched Colour Your Hair for Mental Health where we asked all Australians to ‘get their colour on’ by dying their hair or wearing a colourful wig during Mental Health Week to raise funds for research.

NeuRA wants to thank all of those who participated in or supported this campaign. We have been highly impressed by the creative direction of some of their hairstyles!

Fundraiser Bradon French chose a vibrant pink and purple hairdo

The campaign raised $110,000, which will support research for mental illnesses or conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar and schizophrenia.

Holly Walsh, who works as a receptionist at Mondo in Melbourne, was NeuRA’s top community fundraiser. She raised more than $5,000 for a cause she feels passionately about.

Holly before and after dying her hair


“I set up four options for people to choose from and orange was the most popular choice among my supporters,” she said.

“I have received an amazing amount of support from my friends and family, as well as my colleagues

at Mondo. When I talk to people about what I am doing, a lot of people have said it’s brave and have been happy to support such a great cause.”

Holly was just one of hundreds of people who joined the campaign from all over Australia and coloured their hair.

Beyond supporting research, NeuRA’s goal was to raise awareness around mental health and bring people together to share stories about how mental illness has impacted on them and their loved ones.

Research is a slow process. It consists of incremental improvements that expands our knowledge and leads to better treatments for people in need.

Fundraiser Eva Urban chose rainbow hair


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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.