Spinal Cord Injury

RESEARCH CENTRE

NEURA RESEARCH GIVES HOPE TO SAM BLOOM AND OTHERS AFFECTED BY SPINAL CORD INJURY

NeuRA is working with Spinal Cure Australia ambassador, Sam Bloom, to raise awareness about the value of spinal cord injury research.

Sam became a world champion para-surfer after breaking her back during an accident in Thailand. She overcame seven months of hospital and rehab to become one of Australia’s most influential advocates for people with a spinal cord injury.

On 2 July, Sam joined NeuRA in an online webinar to discuss her personal journey and participate in a question and answer session on the latest in NeuRA’s research activities.

She was joined by the NeuRA’s Professor Simon Gandevia, who is heading up our new Spinal Cord Injury Research Centre (SCIRC).

This centre was constructed in 2020 thanks to generous support from SpinalCure Australia. The CEO of SpinalCure, Duncan Wallace, also joined the webinar.

SCIRC researchers are utilising cutting edge technology to experiment and test new means of treating people with spinal cord injuries.

Their goal is to help people with spinal cord injuries to regain movement and perhaps to even walk again. “I’m so excited to see how researchers can help people with spinal cord injuries to obtain a better quality of life,” said Sam. “The researchers at NeuRA are giving hope and inspiration to people with spinal cord injuries across Australia and the world,” she said.

You can follow Sam’s journey here.

 

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Cortical activity during balance tasks in ageing and clinical groups using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.   This series of studies will investigate: How do age and/or disease- associated declines in cognitive functions affect balance control? How is this further impacted by psychological, physiological and medical factors (eg. fear, pain, medications)? How does the brain control these balance tasks?     Approach The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).   Studies Cortical activity during stepping and gait adaptability tasks Effects of age, posture and task condition on cortical activity during reaction time tasks Influence of balance challenge and concern about falling on brain activity during walking Influence of lower limb pain/discomfort on brain activity during stepping   This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation. It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.
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