My journey in a wheelchair started in 1977 and I was only given ten years to live, so any thought to finding a cure for a damaged spinal cord, and therefore walking again, was a distant dream! In recent years there has been an avalanche of research and a momentum to find a cure, to the extent I now believe it's not a question of "if" but "when" a cure is discovered. When this new cure happens it won't help an old fella like me, but it will help those who are newly injured - and that's fantastic. All this research though costs money, and lots of it. This is where Catwalk comes in. As a Trustee, I'm part of a wonderful team dedicated to raising funds and I urge you to support us. Check Catwalk out at www.catwalk.org.nz
Scientists agree unanimously, injured nerve cells in the spinal cord can be regenerated and “paralysis” following spinal cord injury (SCI) will become a thing of the past. Dedicated to supporting innovative, world-class SCI research to repair damage and cure spinal cord injury, The CatWalk Trust is determined to translate scientific discoveries into treatments which restore movement, feeling and function to those injured. The world is entering a new era in neuroscience where our knowledge of the spinal cord matches the urgent need to treat and cure disease and injury. Achieving substantial repair of damaged spinal cords requires a combined effort and a complex multidisciplinary approach. Though the support of our donors, CatWalk facilitates cutting-edge SCI research and infrastructure.
In 2011, CatWalk donors helped establish the SCI Research Facility (SCIRF) based in the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland. The major role of the SCIRF is to create expertise and maintain spinal injury models that can be accessed by researchers from throughout New Zealand and internationally working on SCI repair.
We need investment to build the capability so we can challenge research boundaries. With targeted funding and global collaboration, research exploration will accelerate to enable those living with SCI to walk again. The human spinal cord is remarkable. It acts as the body’s information superhighway, it is both exceptionally capable and delicately vulnerable.
In most cases, SCI paralysis is caused by an intense trauma to the spinal cord. As a result, nerves are disrupted and the cells around the site of injury are destroyed. The split-second impact results in the formation of a lesion which affects the ability to move limbs as well as secondary complications which create a number of health related problems. The consequences last a lifetime with ongoing health problems including neuropathic pain, infections, pressure injuries, mental health issues, and bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction. It is so much more than being unable to walk.
A cure for SCI would be transformational to the lives of those who suffer and would reduce a great deal of pressure on our already stretched healthcare system - the associated health care, rehabilitation and societal costs are in excess of NZ$820m per year.
Researchers using purpose funded facilities, are already contributing to the global and growing body of evidence that shows a cure for SCI will be found. Thanks to research previously funded by CatWalk donors, a number of novel treatments have had positive results in the research laboratory. We are determined to see these treatments transferred to the clinic and to achieve significant improvements for people living with a SCI.