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Urology 2021

Restoring vital functions through life changing research

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Andy Russell

Head of Marketing, Spinal Research

We believe that science and medical research will beat paralysis. Our work funds the research needed to improve movement and restore function, so that paralysis will no longer be considered a life sentence.

We’ve seen the power of scientific research through the development COVID-19 vaccination and how this is helping to restore the freedoms we take for granted. As an organisation we are looking to use the same urgency to help accelerate the development of life changing treatments for those with a spinal cord injury (SCI).

Most people with SCIs would say that they would rather have their bladder and bowel control returned to normal than being able to walk again.

Lizzie Tench’s story

Lizzie Tench was badly injured nine years ago when she was cycling to a local café for breakfast, she was thrown off her bike after being hit by an overtaking car. Lizzie knew that something was seriously wrong as she couldn’t feel anything below her waist. 

Lizzie was rushed to a trauma ward where they confirmed her worst fears: she had an incomplete T12/L1 spinal cord injury. She spent five painful days at the trauma ward, followed by three and a half months in a specialist spinal unit coming to terms her injury and the harsh reality of not being able to walk again. 

At this point she didn’t realise the effect of her injury on her bladder and bowel control. She says: “I assumed I was wearing a catheter because I was physically unable to get up and go to the toilet.”

Problems with these functions are more of a hidden issue but affect almost everyone with a spinal cord injury. It can have a devastating impact on health, independence and quality of life. For Lizzie, the lack of control means a loss of freedom and spontaneity. It also results in embarrassing accidents, especially when out in public, and urinary tract infections. Lizzie also highlights that “Most people with SCIs would say that they would rather have their bladder and bowel control returned to normal than being able to walk again. Research into restoring function is very important.”

Creating life changing treatments

At Spinal Research, our Below the Belt portfolio of research projects focuses on restoring these functions and brings together teams of scientists to help tackle this urgent need. We currently have five research projects in this portfolio that are using innovative treatments to help improve function. 

One of these exciting projects is a two-year clinical study being led by Dr Sarah Knight at the London Spinal Injuries Unit. Dr Knight will recruit 20 individuals with a spinal cord injury who will receive a combination of spinal cord electrical stimulation and bladder training programme to help improve bladder function.

Spinal Research does not receive support from the UK government, so our life changing research is driven by the generosity of our supporters. By supporting us you’ll be helping keep hope alive for thousands of people living with paralysis in the UK. Donate today to support our work.

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