domenica 7 agosto 2011

Paraplegics in America is walking, but in Italy is unemployed.

Rejc Henry is the only Italian in the team that made a miracle of a young Oregon stuck on a wheelchair for 5 years. But now, with the grant expired, there is no place for him in the Italian research organizations.
"I helped myself to the first experiment in the world that has managed to make a paraplegic walk again, but now for my country are just one of many researchers for a walk." And 'the bitter thirty Rejc Henry, the only Italian in the U.S. team that took a true miracle of Rob Summers, 26, Oregon stuck on a wheelchair for five years.

The project which took part Rejc probably end in the annals of medicine: it had never happened to succeed "reconnect" the brain to the spine that has suffered a permanent injury. "We have succeeded - says the researcher - and if I want to continue working quietly on this line of research I just have to pack up and move permanently in the United States."

The contribution of the Italian researcher on the project was the result of a "loan". Obtaining a PhD at the University of Udine, Rejc first went to Los Angeles and then to Louisville to work side by side with Susan Harkema and Reggie Edgerton, the two scientists who coordinated the study published in the journal Lancet.

"It 'was an amazing experience. We were able to show - he says - that with electrical stimulation can reactivate the epidural spinal circuits that control posture and movement, they are no longer connected to the brain due to injury. " In this way, the "smart" spinal cord is able to use sensory information to control devices independently of muscle activity. "It 'was amazing - refers Rejc - see the young Rob rising from a wheelchair to which he was sentenced in 2006 when a hit-and hit him and ran away." Our researcher was there all the time to see with his eyes those miraculous uncertain steps taken by Rob. "A lot of hard work - he says - before the surgical implantation of electrodes 16 in the lumbosacral spine on Rob, after 70 long training sessions. But it was worth it: get up to see Rob has been very exciting. " Too bad that now seems to be the adventure of Rejc come to an end. With the scholarship expired, he seems to be no place in universities or research institutes Italian.

"They are from January - he says - a signal that aspect, but still nothing. This is one of the first tangible effects of the Gelmini reform. A measure hypocritical, raising the minimum thresholds for research grants and their minimum duration, side by side without adequate funding, has in fact made it almost impossible for universities, already in crisis, working to a researcher, even for short periods ".

Make a one-way ticket out of Italy seems the only alternative, but it is one of those brains Rejc very attached to his land. Born and raised in Gorizia, dreams of a family in his country. "When I think about my future - he says - I like to imagine being able to raise my children here. It seems to me to betray my country going on. And 'that I grew up here, this is where I have my family and friends and that is where I want to provide everything I've learned and continue to learn. " In fact, the Italian researcher certainly can not define a passive member of the community. In fact between a degree in Sports Science and a specialization in Sport Science, Henry brought his science in sports centers. Yes, because the first love of the sport Rejc was right: from basketball to soccer to volleyball. And it is to volleyball who has dedicated his knowledge by providing scientific advice to teams of Serie A. "My role - explains the researcher - is to 'photograph' athletes, even using advanced tools, to find the weaknesses and strengths. Based on the results of tests that can be drawn undergo 'training' tailored to each athlete, preventing injuries and improving performance. "

Rejc scientific interests are really very large. "On one hand I like to explore the prospects for recovery - he says - for patients who have limited mobility. In addition to participating in the American project in 2004 I did some research in Manchester on muscle control in the elderly, those most at risk from falls. On the other hand I still have a strong passion for the sport, on which I focused my studies. "

Sure, it's a stimulating challenge to return to the United States and chasing the same dream of Dane Reeve, the actor who gave to Superman's face, and that until 2004, the year he died, he fought with all his might to overcome the paralysis that struck him in '95 after a fall from a horse.

The association bears the name of the actor has supported and still supports an active studies on electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. "But to do that in my country - says Rejc - fills me with pride." Concludes wryly, "and then after work I like to bike and run in with the movement of American cities is impossible to drive with confidence."

Valentina Arcovio - Planet Science

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