La Trobe scholar creates unique database

The SpineCare Foundation has awarded La Trobe University's Erin Garner a Scholarship to complete research to establish a national database of cases of spinal cord injury in children. Such a register would be a global first.

The 29 year old from Carlton works as an Occupational Therapist in paediatric rehabilitation at The Royal Children's Hospital.  

Erin says there is extremely limited research in the area of children's spinal cord injuries and very little guidance for clinicians. The establishment of a database will make it easier for those working in the field to better collaborate on research, treatment and prevention.

'I became incredibly motivated to start research in this area and the SpineCare Foundation scholarship will allow me to do this and see the project through.

'A database will give Australia the potential to be a world leader in creating a national child population based register that will help to predict future funding, research and preventative strategies,' Erin said.

SpineCare Foundation Chairperson Kerry Stubbs said accurate information is vital in the planning of appropriate lifelong health services for these children.

'At the moment this information only exists for adults, so little is known about the short and longer-term functional outcomes for those who sustain spinal cord injuries in childhood.

'We are delighted to have Erin working with us to undertake this world first initiative to improve long term health outcomes for children with spinal cord injuries, which is a lifelong condition with major impacts for both the young person and their families,' Ms Stubbs said. 

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the scholarship is wonderful recognition of Erin's work and the importance of research.

'It is also a great reinforcement of our research themes of building healthy communities and working with communities to make a difference.'

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