For the last 10 years, one amazing event has been happening on a yearly basis: The Working 2 Walk (W2W) Symposium – a 2-day event sponsored by the United2Fight Paralysis Association. And Spinalpedia was there. We met so many people with paralysis and researchers. It was superb! Please enjoy hope W2W 2015 review below.
Backstory on W2W
W2W brings together some of the most passionate SCI research advocates and researchers under one roof and this year it occurred at the North Marriott Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. presented. And this year was it’s 10th anniversary. Ten years ago the very first W2W Rally was attended by the late Dana Reeve and then Sen. Hillary Clinton. Watch a video commemorating the event through the years
Today more than ever before there’s reason than to believe treatments that will one day help improve chronic spinal cord injuries will happen in our lifetimes. This year several doctors and researchers gave presentations on their studies and on-going trials. Here’s an overview of each presentation, with video links, below.
- Dr. Jan-Eric Ahlfors, Chief Scientific Officer of New World Laboratories: Dr. Ahlfors spoke on his research using bone marrow to harvest adult stem cells taken from one’s own body, and then injecting them directly into the injury site. He has conducted successful trials in humans in Russia, with paraplegic test subjects reporting increased bladder, bowel and sexual functions/sensations and some increased movement/feeling in their legs. His video clips (in Russian) were very exciting to see.
- Dr. Justin Brown, Assistant Professor and Director, Neurosurgery Peripheral Nerve Program, UC San Diego: He is doing nerve transfers in chronic quadriplegics of all levels, restoring mobility in upper extremities. He showed video clips of quads getting triceps and finger extension return thanks to his procedure (read more on this below).
- Gregoire Courtine, PhD, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology: Courtine and his team have been doing successful spinal cord stimulation with electrode implants in rats and monkeys, and they’ve been able to restore assisted walking ability using intense rehab in several of the animal test subjects. He also invented e-Dura, an electrode implant intended to bridge injury sites.
- Dr. David Brafman Assistant Professor Arizona State University: He is focused on re-engineering pluripotent human stem cells in the lab and he discussed how he is trying to see if they can affect the cells of common neurological diseases.
- Dr. Nicholas Jeffery Professor Veterinary Neurology & Neurosurgery, Iowa State University: Dr. Jeffrey and his team are using chondroitinase and autologous olfactory mucosal cell transplants in already injured dogs, and they’re using intense rehab and gait training.
- Dr. Dalton Dietrich Scientific Director The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis: This longtime Scientific Director of The Miami Project discussed two longtime topics. 1) Cooling down an injured spinal cord to 33 degrees (in the acute phase) to change ASIA A injuries to ASIA B and 2) He discussed their ongoing Schwann cell research.
- Dr. Edward Wirth Chief Medical Officer of Asterias Biotherapeutics: A company very much in the news lately, Asterias (InVivo) is doing a groundbreaking acute and chronic study with their neuro-scaffold (embedded with embryonic stem cells) device, which is now onto Phase 2. Phase 1 was discussed with the audience.
Read the official W2W blog (with in-depth explanations of each presentation summarized above) here, by Kate Willette for The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Josh’s Advocacy Speech
This year SPINALpedia was one of the sponsors of W2W. Our founder Josh Basile, a quadriplegic and spinal cord injury research advocate, was the keynote speaker on Sunday. His speech “Advocating with Your Body and Mind” was on the importance of keeping our bodies healthy so they’re ready for possible therapies.
He also discussed the importance of going out in public so we are seen (the more the public sees us, the more they are aware of spinal cord injuries and the need for research). His advocacy work over the last ten years since his injury has been highly admired.
Dr. Justin Brown’s Speech (nerve transfers in quadriplegics)
One of the most exciting presentations that received a huge applause was Dr. Justin Brown’s work; a neurosurgeon from University of California at San Diego (UCSD). He’s been doing nerve transfers (the nerves extending from the spinal cord) and has been able to return movement in the upper extremities.
He showed a video clip of a C5-6 quadriplegic post-surgery (who couldn’t raise her arm over her head before) who was now able to extend her arm over her head. This is not your standard tendon transfer; it is a nerve transfer and a completely new procedure that’s slowly being practiced across the country. Only USC and the Mayo Clinic offer this procedure currently. Dr. Brown’s clinic accepts any out-of-state insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. Watch a clip of Dr. Brown’s speech
“Confessions of Amateur Activists” Speech
Matt Roderick, who’s son was injured diving six years ago in Costa Rica, and Rob Wudlick, a C3 quadriplegic, are from Minnesota and they were directly responsible for helping to get $1 million in research funding from the state of Minnesota after four long years of advocacy work. They told their story, how difficult it was and most importantly they shared what they learned so others can go back to their states and try to do the same thing. Watch their presentation
In our swag bags was a brand new book on spinal cord injury research, Don’t Call It a Miracle: The Movement to Cure Spinal Cord Injury by Kate Willette (her husband was injured skiing in 2001).
You too can receive this book for free from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Foundation. It is definitely the latest greatest book to read on spinal cord injury research. Go here to download your copy
In the meantime, we must stay on track. That means advocate, show the public we’re here and that we want a cure.
- Want to attend W2W next year? It will be in Minneapolis in mid October. Bookmark their site for updates on W2W 2016
Have you attended W2W over the last 10 years?
More on W2W