Spinal Cord Injury


What is the Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre?

The Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre (SCIRC) at NeuRA was established in 2020.

The Centre conducts research aimed at improving the lives of those with spinal cord injuries, and was built thanks to funding from SpinalCure Australia.

The Centre is home to studies that could lead to significant changes to the treatment methods for people with spinal cord injuries.


How does the SCIRC work?

This facility contains state-of-the-art exercise, rehabilitation and neurophysiology equipment. NeuRA has long been a world leader in neurostimulation research. The creation of this centre in 2020 enables the organisation to increase the scope and speed of this research. The Centre is currently exploring cutting-edge techniques, such as neurostimulation, acute-intermittent hypoxia and inspiratory muscle training, which could help activate muscles in people with spinal cord injuries.

Improved activation of muscles is likely to lead to improved bodily functions, such as breathing and walking.

Research studies are led by NeuRA Deputy Director Professor Simon Gandevia, Senior Principal Research Scientist Jane Butler, Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, and Senior Research Scientist Euan McCaughey.  They are joined by colleagues Dr Martin Héroux, Dr Claire Boswell-Ruys and Dr Liz Bye.


Why is this research so important?

Around 350 Australians are affected by a spinal cord injury each year, many of them at a young age.

The effects of a spinal cord injury are major: they can impair many critical functions that are easily taken for granted. Movement, sensation, blood pressure control as well as bowel, bladder and sexual function can all be affected.

NeuRA’s commitment to spinal cord injury research could help improve the quality of life of the estimated 12,000 people across Australia who have a spinal cord injury


The Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre is based at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) which is located next to the Prince of Wales Hospital on Barker St in Randwick NSW.

Find us on Google maps
Download a Randwick Hospitals campus map (PDF)


Simon Gandevia (s.gandevia@neura.edu.au)

Jane Butler (j.butler@neura.edu.au)

Sylvia Gustin (s.gustin@neura.edu.au)

Euan McCaughey (e.mccaughey@neura.edu.au)

SCIRC TEAM includes:

Martin Héroux (m.heroux@neura.edu.au)

Claire Boswell-Ruys(c.boswell-ruys@neura.edu.au)

Liz Bye (l.bye@neura.edu.au)


The Centre is home to studies that could lead to significant changes to the treatment methods for people with spinal cord injuries. Related projects include:


Training modules (password protected) 


See what’s going on at NeuRA


ReacStep – novel balance training programs to prevent falls in older adults

The ReacStep study is investigating the short-term effects of two balance training programs (i.e. reactive balance training and conventional balance training) on balance recovery from slips and trips in older adults. These programs are designed from evidence-based research and offer a challenging and unique experience to improving balance. The ReacStep team are calling on volunteers who: are aged 65 and over living independently in the Sydney metropolitan community can walk 500m comfortably with mobility aids or rest have not been advised by a medical practitioner not to exercise have no neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.) have no history or lower limb, pelvic or vertebral fracture(s) and/or lower limb joint replacement(s) in the past 6 months have no other existing conditions that may prevent them from exercising (e.g. injury, pain, fatigue, etc.) Eligible volunteers will be subjected to a health and safety screening before they are enrolled and randomly allocated into one of the two groups. Both groups will undertake a 3-week training program with an exercise physiologist, at NeuRA (i.e. in Randwick) as well as a balance recovery assessment at the 4-week time point. Reactive balance training involves intentionally stepping on a sliding tile, stepping over obstacles, trigger-release recovery as well as strength training. Participants will be wearing a full-body safety harness to ensure safety. Conventional balance training involves keeping balance in varying foot positions (i.e. feet together, in tandem or on one leg) whilst performing secondary tasks such as throwing a ball, card sorting, solving a maze or playing computer games. For more detailed information, read the Participant Information Statement and watch the video below. To get involved or to register your interest, click HERE. For all other queries, please contact the ReacStep Team on 02 9399 1002 or reactstep-study@neura.edu.au. HC210350 https://youtu.be/55q5pK0kjqY