An Australia wide trial is set to get underway with hopes it may lead to life-long improvements for those who experience a spinal cord injury.
Led by Professor Lisa Harvey from the Kolling Institute’s John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research, the study represents a collaboration between the University of Sydney and every spinal injury unit in Australia.
The State Government is investing $2.5 million in the project, with the University of Sydney contributing $500,000.
Professor Harvey said the innovative approach is one of the most promising interventions for those with spinal cord injuries.
“Researchers will assess the effectiveness of early and intensive physiotherapy on neurological recovery and function in people with a recent injury,” she said.
“The type of physiotherapy we are looking at will be directed below the level of the injury to take advantage of the plasticity of the spinal cord, and its ability to self-repair soon after injury.
“The treatment will aim to help partially paralysed muscles work again through a range of specific exercises, including walking on a treadmill with overhead suspension and electrical stimulation.
“It’s hoped the trial will provide evidence of the effectiveness of this intervention and its potential to make an immediate and life-long difference to people with a spinal cord injury.
“Once we have that evidence, this approach could be incorporated into clinical practice and rolled out on a large-scale across Australia.
“We’re very hopeful the treatment will lead to better outcomes for those with a spinal cord injury, improving their ability to live independently, and participate in work and leisure.”