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Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) refer to any injury to the spinal cord as a result of trauma (falls, car accidents or a medical condition such as a stroke), resulting in a loss of functional mobility and/or feeling. An SCI may be complete or incomplete, depending on the site and degree of injury to the nerve fibres. Incomplete injury can result in movement and sensation abnormalities and a complete injury usually means total loss of movement and sensation – permanent paralysis.

SCI is a permanent and irreversible injury where prevention is the only cure. Our researchers are dedicated to making advances in treating spinal cord injuries.

More than 10,000 people in Australia have a spinal cord injury, many resulting in quadriplegia or paraplegia.

Research Focus

Our scientists are working to make further advances in treating spinal cord injuries.

The objective of our Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory led by Dr Stuart Hodgetts is developing clinically relevant strategies for the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI). The most common causes of SCI are accidents involving motor vehicle occupants and unprotected road users (including cyclists and pedestrians), as well as falls, sports injuries and violence. Men are at risk, accounting for over 80% of cases.

Research into new treatments for spinal cord injuries includes the use of stem cells transplants, to replace damaged tissue, and modification of the injury site to promote tissue sparing as well as the regeneration and/or regrowth of damaged neurons

Other strategies include gene therapy (at the injury site itself, or in the brain to induce plasticity), neuroprotective peptides, tissue engineering using nanotechnology and non-invasive therapies (including magnetic stimulation and photobiomodulation using infra-red/near infra-red light). These strategies have been supported heavily through collaborations with our researchers at Perron Institute, the Australian National University and the University of Western Australia.

The team are also looking to further understand the impacts that lead to damage of the spinal cord in vehicular accidents through a mathematical model being used by the Mathematical Engineering Department at UWA. This will allow us to develop preventative strategies to reduce the impact of SCI in the community.

Through continued use of leading-edge technologies that will be further developed over the coming years, the Spinal Cord Repair Research Group plan to maximise repairing the injured spinal cord in preparation for translation into Perron Institute’s clinic.


  • Hodgetts (CI). Neurotrauma Research Program for "Photobiomodulation for spinal cord repair using wireless LED based devices implanted at the injury site" (2020-2021)
  • Swaminatha Iyer, Harvey, Hodgetts, Setterlund & Thickett. Australian Research Council Project Grant for "Hierarchical assembly of graphene oxide nanoparticles as bionanointerface" (2019-2021)
  • Hodgetts, Harvey & Chen. Neurotrauma Research Program for "Direct in vivo reprogramming of host astrocytes into functional neurons in the ischemic spinal cord" (2019-2022)
  • Harvey, Hodgetts, Petratos. Neurotrauma Research Program for "Effects of collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP-2) gene therapy on the regeneration of corticospinal axons after spinal cord injury" (2019-2020)

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