David Prast was a leader and inspirational thinker whose determination led to major improvements for those, like him, who experienced a spinal cord injury. An afternoon dip in a calm ocean at Perth's Cottesloe Beach had left him with tetraplegia - with little movement from the neck down. In a freak moment, David, a charismatic and successful businessman, became trapped and desperate to get out of a wheelchair. Yet he used his drive and determination to become a major advocate for people with spinal injuries, focusing campaigning on the need for better initiatives, particularly in medical research, until his death in November 2011. David often said that the work he was doing was to benefit others, rather than himself.
His achievements included establishing the first state government Neurotrauma Research Program in Western Australia, which became the first of many. He helped promote the potential importance of stem cell research. He pioneered a global campaign to cure paralysis (International Campaign to Cure Paralysis), which resulted in greater awareness and improved funding for this under-researched condition, and developed clinical trials methodologies that are currently used for clinical trials in spinal cord injury repair and protection. David also helped establish the Spinal Cord Injury Network in Australia to further his goal of bringing together all of the sectors involved in spinal cord injury. His vision was to ensure that the latest scientific and medical developments from around the world were made available to people in Australia as soon as possible.
In accordance with his vision of gaining practical outcomes for people with a spinal cord injury, one of his most important accomplishments was the successful Walk On facility, now running nationally, to provide people with intensive exercise therapy after an accident.
Walk On is an individually tailored, intensive activity-based rehabilitation program designed to assist a person with a spinal cord injury to improve and maximise their functional ability and to lead a more independent life. The program involves intense, dynamic weight-bearing exercises, all performed out of the wheelchair one-on-one with a qualified Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist. Walk On is a community-based rehabilitation program available to people following their discharge from hospital. Walk On clients regularly report significant functional improvements from their involvement in the program and a positive impact upon their quality of life.
• Improve the outcomes of those living with a spinal cord injury
• Promote practical, translatable research into spinal cord injuries
• Invest in and develop future leaders in clinical research
• Promote exchange of international knowledge towards the goal of achieving better outcomes for people with spinal cord injuries
The Fellowship is open to applications for research in all areas, providing that the research outcomes will demonstrably improve functional outcomes for people living with spinal cord injury in a 3-5 year timeframe.
The Fellowship will therefore be of interest to RACP physicians and trainees in a wide range of areas of medicine.
It may be of particular relevance to those with an interest in exercise and electrical stimulation.
Purpose: To provide support and to further research into improving functional outcomes for people living with spinal cord injury and to further the vision of David Prast. The recipient will be expected to include a clinical component in the field of spinal cord injury within the application which is supported by the administering institution. The recipient will also be expected to travel to international centres to further their knowledge or participate in research. Funding may be used for stipend, project expenses and travel.
Value: Up to $150,000 per annum for up to three years
Eligibility: Australia and New Zealand Fellows and advanced trainees of the RACP, its Divisions, Faculties and Chapters who are interested in embarking on a career of medical research combined with medical practice in this area.; and are
• less than seven years from the award of their research higher degree; OR
• have completed a research higher degree and are less than two years after return from a minimum one year overseas
Fellows and advanced trainees currently resident overseas may apply but must demonstrate how they will apply their research in Australia.
Tenable: Australia, New Zealand and overseas
Special requirement: Applicants are required to provide a letter addressed to SCIA and SCA as part of the application process providing detail as to how their research will contribute to the vision of David Prast. During the period of the Fellowship the recipient will be required to report to the donors regarding new technologies, ideas and outcomes; and to participate in yearly round table discussions with SCIA and SCA.
The Fellowship is made available due to the generosity of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and SpinalCure Australia.