On the 9th of Nov the Auckland University had the pleasure of hosting the 2023 Spinal Cord Injury symposium.

This is the second time this event has been held and it was pleasing to see an increase in interest with 75 attendees, all with a mutual interest in improving the lives of those with spinal cord injuries.

The stakeholders assembled include those with a lived experience of spinal cord injury, supporting organisations, clinicians, researchers and of course the CatWalk folk. The symposium was designed to increase understanding of the needs for those with a spinal cord injury, to explore health care services available, to allow dissemination of research findings related to spinal cord injury, and to assist in formulating new research concepts.

Following a Karakia by Lee Taniwha, there was a brief introduction from the represented groups in the room:

  • Auckland Spinal Rehab Unit (Leah Young)
  • Burwood Academy (Rebecca Coombes)
  • Spinal Support (Georgia Cameron)
  • Burwood Spinal Unit (Raj Singhal)
  • NZ Spinal Trust (Hans Wouters)
  • CatWalk (Grant Sharman)
  • Care up Front (Lee Taniwha)
  • ROPE Neuro Rehabilitation (Lillian Drumond)
  • ACC (Sonya Iszard)
  • Auckland University of Technology (Kate Anderson)

This was followed by a panel discussion on Lived Experiences – Post Injury Experiences with Physical Rehabilitation. The panel consisted of Brad Smeele, Sally Barkman, Sophia Malthus, Lee Taniwha and Simone de Mari. They each gave an insight to their injury and what they do in terms of rehabilitation
and outcomes.

A presentation from Rebecca Coombs from the Burwood Academy highlighted the research being undertaken in the rehabilitation space. This was followed by Greta Minty and Christine Mangold who gave the latest statistics to be released from the 2022 Spinal Cord Injury Registry. A comprehensive overview of current research being undertaken at Auckland University was presented by the project lead researchers and Dr Simon O’Carroll, head of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility.

In addition to the local talent present we were joined by Professor Riyi Shi from Purdue University in the US, and Dr Anna Leonard from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Not only did they give interesting talks regarding current research into spinal cord injury, but they also spent time before and after the symposium interacting with researchers at the University of Auckland to cross pollinate ideas and activities.

The work being done in Upper Limb Reconstructive Surgery in Tetraplegia was presented as one of the discussions in the Health Care Professionals session which was followed by an open discussion and questions session.

Dr Darren Svirskis and Catherine Kerins are to be congratulated for planning and presenting an informative day, with a great opportunity for networking and opening conversations between stakeholders who all have a common goal
– to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

CatWalk Magazine - Dec 2023
CatWalk Magazine - Dec 2023
CatWalk Magazine - Dec 2023 - Brad Raos
Catwalk Magazine – December 2023
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