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Spencers Solicitors calls for businesses to take action on road safety

November 19, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Spencers Solicitors are pleased to announce their support of Road Safety Week, in conjunction with Brake, the road safety charity.

We love road safety week banner

Road Safety Week is the UK's biggest road safety event, involving thousands of schools, businesses and community groups every year. This year's RSW runs from 17-23 November, and to mark the occasion, Spencers Solicitors held an office 'Bright Day' where the whole team wore their brightest and most florescent clothing to work, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the charity.

Staff from the firm have also signed up to the 'Brake Pledge' in order to help make the roads safer. The Brake Pledge encourages road safety awareness by including promises to: slow down to 20mph around schools, avoid overtaking, get eye tests every two years, and minimise as much as possible the amount of journeys taken by car.

Sarah-Jane Martin, from Brake said:

"It is fantastic that Spencers are supporting Road Safety Week. The misery of road deaths and injuries, as well as the pollution caused by vehicles, is a blight that we must work to end. Road Safety Week aims to inspire communities to take action on road safety and promote life-saving messages - that people need to tune in to road safety. We are really pleased that a firm like Spencers Solicitors are backing our cause and we hope that it encourages others to do the same."

Martyn Gilbert Photo

In an effort to help combat road collisions, Spencers have also offered staff free reflective gear for any who make the choice to cycle to work. Now, Spencers Solicitors are calling on other businesses to follow suit.

"We felt that it was an extremely important campaign to get involved in," said Martyn Gilbert from Spencers Solicitors. "By taking these small measures, by committing ourselves to the Brake Pledge, we can really help improve safety for our local community and we would encourage other companies in the Derbyshire area commit themselves to road safety too."

Spencers team in bright clothes holding Bright Day posters

Spencers accounts team dressing bright clothes and wig taking part in Bright Day

To find out more about Brake and the invaluable work they do, visit www.brake.org.uk and follow @Brakecharity on twitter.

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Sniffing out a Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

November 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Back in April I wrote a blog exploring the research that revealed how a tongue piercing could help people with spinal cord injuries. Since then I have kept a watchful eye out for new treatments or innovations that may offer help for those suffering from spinal cord injury.

I was therefore thrilled to read the recent story of 40 year old Polish man Darek Fidyka, previously completely paralysed from the waist down, who has now been able to walk following years of research and pioneering surgery.

Mr Fidyka undergoing spinal physiotherapy

Mr Fidyka's Story

Four years ago a horrific knife attack left Mr Fidyka paralysed from the waist down after his spinal cord was cut. Following this horrendous incident he showed little sign of recovery despite many months of intense physiotherapy treatment.

This led to Mr Fidyka becoming part of a large research team composed of surgeons at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland, and scientists from the University Hospital in London. They were also supported by fundraisers in Britain and Poland, and in particular David Nicholls, who helped fund the research through a foundation called Nicolls Spinal Injury Foundation which he set up as a tribute to his 18 year old son left paralysed after a swimming accident in 2003.

The all important breakthrough came after over four decades of research by Professor Geoff Raisman from the University College London, Institute of Neurology, alongside support from the UK Stem Cell Foundation (set up in 2007 to speed up research). The central discovery has been a new treatment called Olfactory Ensheathing Cells (OECs), which represents the most significant breakthrough following years spent studying how to repair the spinal cord. No-one ever thought regeneration of the spinal cord would be possible, but that now appears to have been turned on its head.

Repurposing the sense of smell

OECs are basically specialist nerve-supporting cells from the nose, which are regrown and then put into the spinal cord. The OECs work to assist the repair of damaged nerves that transmit smell messages, and do so by opening up pathways for them to reach the olfactory bulbs in the forebrain. The key factor is that when the cells are relocated to the spinal cord they appear to enable to ends of the severed nerve fibres to grow and join together.

Mr Fidyka became involved in the process when he agreed to work alongside the research team and undergo surgery to receive a transplant of cells taken from his nose into his spinal cord.

The overall process involved two operations. The first one was to open up his skull and remove one of the two olfactory bulbs at the base of the brain so that the olfactory ensheathing cells could then be grown in a culture.


Diagram of how the spinal injury was treated
How the spinal injury was treated - image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29645760

Two weeks later the second operation involved exposing the damaged spinal cord and transplanting the cells. This involved 100 micro injections of OECs made above and below the damaged area of the spinal cord. Four strips of nerve tissue were then placed across an 8mm gap in the spinal cord. Scientists believe the OECs act as a critical pathway in stimulating the spinal cord cells to regenerate, using the nerve grafts as a bridge to cross the severed cord.

The Miraculous Results

About three months later Mr Fidyka first noticed that his left thigh had started to develop muscle. Six months later he was able to take his first steps along parallel bars using leg braces. Two years on he can now walk outside using a frame and even drive a car. He has also recovered some bladder and bowel sensation, sexual function and sensations such as hot and cold and pins and needles.

But with these reported breakthroughs, we must always remain cautious but optimistic. Those living with spinal cord injuries are all too aware of headlines promising 'miracle' cures, and must always be vigilant in reading between the lines on such reports. Dan Burden, a spokesperson for the UK's Spinal Injuries Association, who broke his back in a fall while on holiday 13 years ago, said:

"The reality is that there is a long way to go before this is a treatment that can be applied to spinal cord-injured people; there will also be question marks about whether this treatment would work for someone who has been injured for many years.

But they are the first studies we've seen that may well lead one day to the repair or a solution to a spinal cord injury."

However, even taking this important approach into consideration, the number of paralysed people in the world is colossal, and this breakthrough cannot be dismissed. If the global neurosurgeon community can be convinced that this medical marvel really does work, then we must be open to its potential in changing people's lives forever.

The door to realising that our nervous system really does have the ability to repair itself is now tentatively open, and we should all be cautiously optimistic for future treatments.

 

About the author

Laura Reaney  photoLaura Reaney is a litigator within Spencers Solicitors Complex Injury team. Laura has extensive experience in dealing with claimants that have complex and serious injuries, and over the years has worked on various cases including those involving back and spinal injuries.

Her previous blog was Surgery in the sun - What are the risks?

 

 

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Ashgate Hospice Spooktacular 2014 Fundraising

October 31, 2014 at 4:29 PM

On Friday 31st October, Spencers Solicitors took part in Ashgate Hospice's Spooktacular event where staff were encouraged to dress up in spooky Halloween costumes to raise money for their local hospice.

Ashgate Hospice are an independent Chesterfield based charity that covers all of North Derbyshire, providing specialist palliative care to terminally ill adults and their families, maintaining best quality of life throughout illness. All their services are provided free of charge and £4.3 million must be raised annually from voluntary giving.

Many local businesses in the Derbyshire area were involved, all tweeting their fundraising progress and costume efforts using the hashtag #Spooktacular. The Spencers team were no exception as you can see from the below picture: 

Spencers team dress in Halloween costume

You can still support this great charity by donating online via JustGiving or by texting 'FANG66 £1' to 70070 to donate £1.

www.justgiving.com/spooktacular14/

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