CENTRAL JERSEY SPINAL CORD ASSOCIATION CREATES HOPE
When no one believed there ever would be a cure for spinal cord injuries, the Central Jersey Spinal Cord Association (CJSCA), not only believed that effective treatments were possible, but committed themselves to do everything they could to bring about that cure. Since 1987 they have dedicated their energies to raising funds for research. Today they are seeing their efforts come into fruition.
When world-renown researcher Dr. Wise Young was recruited to Rutgers to establish a world-class neuroscience center, he was surprised and pleased to discover that CJSCA, one of the leading spinal cord research funding organizations, was right in his backyard. There was an immediate bond between these two top-ranked groups who shared the same vision, a relationship that quickly developed into a partnership of respect and deep friendship.
The fundraising efforts of CJSCA has provided the foundation for much of the cutting-edge research at the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience including the work undergirding the clinical trials planned for New Jersey and New York in 2017. These trials are based on the first trials for people with chronic complete spinal cord injuries which recently were completed in China. In those trials 75% (15 out of 20) of the participants recovered the ability to walk with minimal assistance and the majority also recovered critical bowel and bladder function.
Other projects that have received support from CJSCA include potential treatments for severe neuropathic pain, studies into gender differences in response to both injury and treatments, potential therapies for higher and lower level spinal cord injuries, and developing methods to expand by ten-fold the number of people who can be treated from a single unit of umbilical cord blood while reducing the cost from $1,000 to $100 per treatment.
Central Jersey Spinal Cord Association is unique among organizations funding spinal cord injury research because of its longevity and its loyal and steadfast volunteers, many of whom have worked with the organization since its founding. Some of the original families now have workers from the second and third generations.
The highlight of the year is the Annual Banquet which features a research update by Dr. Wise Young and an inspirational address by founder and executive director Kevin Hoagland, two men who share an unwavering commitment to bring effective treatments to people with spinal cord injuries and their hurting families. Originally launched in times of deepest despair, the existence of Central Jersey Spinal Cord Association became and remains a creator of Hope to the entire community.
Special thanks to Patricia Morton and Jim Bennett for this article.