In the ever-evolving landscape of medical progress, the sparks of innovation consistently illuminate the path toward discovering novel solutions that enhance our lives. Among these advancements, Project Spark is undoubtedly one of them, particularly with its pioneering work in neurostimulation treatments.
Understanding Project Spark: A 5-Year Journey of Progress
Initiated in 2021 by SpinalCure Australia, Project Spark is a five-year program encompassing clinical trials and community-based studies across Australia. The primary goal is to test, validate, and develop neurostimulation treatments tailored for individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Unveiling the Clinical Trials Underway
- The eWalk trial: It’s Australia’s first neurostimulation clinical trial, aiming to restore the walking ability of incomplete paraplegics, recruiting in Sydney, Melbourne and three international sites.
- Get a Grip: The second neurostimulation trial aims to improve hand, arm and respiratory function for people with quadriplegia. This study is taking place at Sydney’s Clyde and St Peter’s NeuroMoves clinics, and the first of up to 96 volunteers will commence treatment in May 2023. A Perth site is due to follow shortly after.
- eWalk 2.0: It’s an expanded phase 3 trial treating 142 incomplete quadriplegics and paraplegics nationwide, commencing 2024.
- Combination Therapy. A fourth study to explore a combination of therapies to improve the arm, hand and respiratory function in people with quadriplegia, commencing 2024.
Decoding Neurostimulation Treatments
Neurostimulation is a revolutionary approach for individuals with spinal cord injuries. It involves using electrical or magnetic stimuli to modulate neural activity within the nervous system, targeting specific body areas such as the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves.
What’s so promising about neurostimulation treatments?
Overseas studies have revealed remarkable outcomes. These include individuals standing and walking, improved hand control, and the restoration of vital functions like bladder and bowel control, as well as cardiovascular stability. Neurostimulation’s uniqueness lies in its unparalleled capacity for meaningful returns in both sensation and function. It also holds the potential for mainstream distribution in the near term.
Navigating the Trials: A Non-Invasive Approach
Concerned about surgery? Fear not. Every trial under Project Spark employs non-invasive neurostimulation, utilising electrodes applied to the skin. While the majority find the process painless, some may experience mild discomfort. Rest assured, the stimulation is carefully trialled and tailored beforehand to ensure suitability for each participant.
How to Participate in Project Spark
SpinalCure Australia, in collaboration with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeurRA), is actively seeking participants for the eWalk trial. If you’re 16 or older and have been diagnosed with a T2–T11 spinal cord injury at least one year ago, you may be eligible.
Dive into the details of eWalk and other clinical trials under Project Spark by visiting SpinalCure Australia for comprehensive information and registration details. Additionally, for more information on trials and research projects, please explore our Research Corner.
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