Heritage and innovation: Largest and oldest spinal unit in the UK plans to raise £80k for 80 years

Date: 01/02/2024 | Category: News 2024

The National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the only NHS spinal unit with a dedicated children’s ward, an Upper Limb Lab and historic paralympic roots, is celebrating its 80th year on 1 February 2024.

To celebrate the centre, which is also the largest and oldest of its kind in the UK, launched an appeal to raise £80k to continue to fund the best treatments and care for patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) as well as future research into new rehabilitation approaches and technologies. People can find out how to donate on the Trust’s fundraising page.

The NSIC launched the appeal at a Founder’s Day Event, attended by colleagues, patients, their families and friends.

NSIC patients benefit from access to innovative surgeries to improve hand and arm function, treatments to help with managing breathing, bladder, pressure sores, and bowel functioning as well as different approaches to patient education and psychological wellbeing. All of which is delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, therapists and nurses who provide the personal and often life-long care spinal cord injured patients need.

A holistic approach is particularly important in the treatment of children with spinal cord injuries. Children and young people’s rehabilitation focuses on their physical and psychological functioning, as well as helping them gain independence and fulfil their potential in life both at home, school, socially and in pursuing their wider interests, be this in the arts, sports or elsewhere.

Having the only dedicated children’s spinal cord injury ward in the country, means that the NSIC is uniquely placed to provide care to patients like Tristan Nattrass, who is 14 years old. Tristan developed a spinal cord injury due to an existing medical condition and has been receiving treatment at the NSIC’s Paediatric Ward, St Francis. The injury has affected Tristan’s ability to walk, and he has been participating in rehabilitation including training using a specialised stationary bike as well as practicing wheelchair manoeuvres.  Keen on wheelchair rugby and racing, Tristan has ambitions to become a future Paralympian.

Tristan said: “My family and friends have been an amazing support to me while I’ve been receiving treatment. The nurses and therapists at the ward here have also really helped me find the motivation to set goals and build on my rehabilitation. It’s through them that I’ve become so inspired to pursue wheelchair rugby and racing. I hope to be back for the inter spinal games later in the year and eventually work hard to become a paralympic athlete.”

NSIC Children’s Ward Sister, Sara O’Shea, said: “If we didn’t have this dedicated ward, patients like Tristan wouldn’t benefit from care that is tailored specifically to children and young people with spinal cord injuries. We are the only dedicated ward in the UK that has specific expertise in children and young people with SCI. We are extremely proud of what our young people go on to achieve in life beyond the centre.”

Chief Medical Officer Andrew McLaren said: “The Trust is very proud of the National Spinal Injuries Centre. And we hope to continue to develop our education, research and innovation to be at the frontier of treating spinal cord injuries for many years to come.”

Watch a 30 second video about the Founder’s Day celebrations

Patient Tristan Nattrass with St Francis Ward Sistter Sara OShea

Pictured above (l to r): St Francis Ward Sister Sara O’Shea with patient Tristan Nattrass

NSIC patient education team

Pictured above: The NSIC Patient Education Team