UTS’s Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Research Program is developing ground-breaking solutions to alleviate the suffering of the thousands of people living with spinal cord injury, and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
The Program is a key research division at UTS’s Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, and is being undertaken in partnership with world-renowned neuroscientist Professor Reggie Edgerton.
Professor Edgerton’s work in the field has been nothing short of ground-breaking. In a world-first, Professor Edgerton and his team have reawakened the spinal cord and successfully restored feeling and function to more than 20 paralysed people using non-invasive neurostimulation. Six of his patients have recovered hand movement, bladder and bowel control, sexual function and the ability to stand – unprecedented results in the history of medical science.
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Scheduled to commence in 2019, it will be the first neurostimulation program outside of the United States promising such an extraordinary level of recovery from spinal cord injury.
The Program will bring together engineers, scientists, public health academics, nurses, physiologists, robotics experts, and PhD students supervised by Professor Edgerton, who will work in collaboration with UTS’s Faculties of Science, Health, and Engineering and Information Technology.
Through firm leadership and a commitment from across the leading disciplines of UTS, our multidisciplinary experts and resources will combine to achieve remarkable results. We expect to make medical history.
The Program’s five-year goals
- Improve the possibility of recovering hand function after spinal cord injury.
- Optimise standing and walking in individuals with complete lower limb paralysis.
- Develop regimes to recover bladder and bowel function in individuals with complete or severe tetraplegia and paraplegia.
- Develop feasible methodologies to improve cardiovascular, blood pressure and other related functions such as body temperature regulation.
- Develop a comprehensive neuromodulation-training intervention that will improve multiple functions impaired by spinal cord injury.
Who is behind the vision?
The Program is an initiative of UTS Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, led by Professor Bryce Vissel.
Professor Edgerton, Distinguished Professor of Spinal Cord Injury at UTS is the Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and a Distinguished Professor of the Departments of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Neurobiology and Neurosurgery, at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
In addition to his breakthrough of enabling 20 paralysed patients to regain movement in their limbs, six people with severe spinal cord injuries regained use of their hands and fingers for the first time in years after undergoing a non-surgical, non-invasive neurostimulation treatment course.
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The techniques pioneered by Professor Edgerton and his team are unprecedented, representing the largest reported recovery of the use of hands ever reported in patients with such severe spinal cord injuries.
"The Centre will have transformative impact on a range of diseases that has not been possible elsewhere. In part it is because UTS is a university of technology but more important is that there is a visionary leadership and cross university commitment that I have never seen before. This is what makes the possibilities at UTS so exciting and so exceptional - We just need the support now to achieve Australia’s world leadership," says Professor Reggie Edgerton.