We awarded £65,000 to the INSPIRE Foundation to fund research which aims to improve the quality of life and independence of those living with spinal cord injuries.
While the inability to walk is often considered the most challenging consequence of spinal cord injury, the loss of control of bladder and bowel is often the most difficult to manage, and can have a persistent and detrimental effect on health, welfare and quality of life.
The NEUROMOD Project
Restoration of bladder and bowel function is a top priority for patients who have experienced a life changing spinal cord injury. The Neuromod Project aims to develop wearable stimulation devices to control bladder and bowel as an alternative to pharmaceutical therapies.
Pelvic functions are controlled by complex interactions between the voluntary and involuntary nervous systems. Following a spinal cord injury, these pathways are disrupted leading to un-inhibited reflex activity which causes incontinence. Neuromodulation (electrical stimulation of neural pathways) of the sacral nerves can be effective at inhibiting these unwanted reflexes.
If successful, this project could reduce or even eliminate the need for pharmaceutical therapies.
The project will be led by research scientist Sean Doherty who broke his neck in a mountain bike accident in 2008.
Following my injury, I was just keen to get on with what I had been doing before it happened. I wanted to be an inventor when I was young; all inventors are trying to solve problems. I think having my injury has directed that ambition towards problems I have seen since.
Throughout the UK, there are around 40,000 people living with a spinal cord injury. It is hoped that this project will have a huge impact on the lives of those affected; restoring confidence and independence and improving the quality life of both patients and their friends and family.