Page 20-21 - NeuRA 2013 in Review

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Our goal is to increase the ability of people
with an injury to look after themselves.
Injury is the leading cause of death for people under
45 years of age.
Your Nervous System | 19
Injuries to the nervous system, such as brain and
spinal cord injuries, are particularly devastating,
often leading to lifelong disability.
At NeuRA, we research the basic mechanisms
of spinal injury: how do the tissues of the human
nervous system respond to mechanical forces?
And what can we do to minimise the impact?
Using leading techniques, our researchers
also measure how individual nerves operate, both
in health and in disease. We research the complex
changes in nerve and muscle excitability that
occur over time or after spinal injury, including the
mechanisms underlying nerve dysfunction. We are
developing tools to the help recovery of voluntary
movement after injury.
Our goal is to increase the ability of people
with an injury to look after themselves. We also
focus on the actions of immune cells at sites remote
from the injury and the consequences for other nerve
pathways. Whether the immune cells are beneficial or
detrimental is not known, but we are currently testing
the link between immune cell activation and the
progressive death of injured nerve cells.
At the other end of the spectrum, we work with
policy makers and community organisations to
translate our research into preventative strategies
for car and motorcycle accidents – including better
vehicle restraints and protective clothing. These are
practical outcomes that lead to lives being saved
and injuries averted.
Main image:
Prof Vaughan
Macefield recording nerve
activity in a patient who is also
having a brain scan.
(above) A human spine;
(opposite) A neuron with an axon
forming a perineuronal basket
around a neighbouring cell.