Research participant's arm in a machine designed for motor impairment study

Motor Impairment


Staff, students, visitors and colleagues

A number of staff at NeuRA are part of the core of the Program.
This includes:
Dr Annie BUTLER (
Dr Martin HÉROUX (
Dr Phu HOANG (
Dr Jasmine MENANT (

A number of doctoral and other students are part of the Program.
This includes:
James NUZZO (
Daniel SCHOENE (

We are also being joined by a number of key visitors, collaborators and other contributors.
This includes:
Bart BOLSTERLEE, PhD student from the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands (to April 2014)
Joanna DIONG, Lecturer, University of Sydney (January 2014 on)
Andreas EJUPI, PhD student from Austrian University of Technology, Austria (January to May 2014)
Graham KERR, Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia (January 2014 on)
Yves GSCHWIND, post-doctoral researcher from University Hospital Basel and University of Basel, Switzerland (January to October 2014)
Hiske VAN DUINEN, post-doctoral researcher from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (January to March 2014)
Leah BENT, Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, Canada (February to June 2014)

See what’s going on at NeuRA


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.