CQU to propel life-changing innovations as Bionics Challenge 2022 launches in Rockhampton

22 July 2022

In a race to fast-track transformational bionic healthcare solutions to market' Bionics Queensland is calling on Australia's clever minds to enter Bionics Challenge 2022' a Queensland-led competition with state and national level prizes.

Welcoming Queenslanders from all walks of life to participate in the Bionics Challenge 2022 to accelerate their innovations' Bionics Queensland CEO' Dr Robyn Stokes is excited to see more novel technologies emerging to restore or enhance function and fast track rehabilitation of those whose lives have been disrupted by traumatic events or intractable health conditions.

"We are calling on everyone from accident survivors themselves to grassroots innovators and start-ups' clinicians' engineers' AI and robotics experts and allied health practitioners – the Challenge is open to teams with early or late-stage ideas for bionic devices' implants' treatments and rehabilitation technologies'" said Dr Stokes.

Set to deliver over $300 000 in prizes and mentorship' The Challenge' delivered in partnership with the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC)' will support those inventing bionic devices' treatments and implants to help people impacted by road accident trauma and related disabilities and health conditions' to return to a full and active life.

A CQUniversity clinical project that uses electrical stimulation to improve the lives of those living with spinal cord injuries will enter the Bionics Challenge 2022 after taking home the Early Stage Bionic Innovation award last year.

Led by CQUniversity Lecturer in Neurological Physiotherapy' Dr Vanesa Bochkezanian' the Electrical Stimulation (E-Stim) treatment aims to increase muscle mass' reduce spasticity and improve overall physical health.

Dr Vanesa Bochkezanian welcomed the launch of Bionics Challenge 2022' which she sees as a great way for students' clinicians and health professionals across the state to access the support and funds required to accelerate their projects.

Dr Bochkezanian and her team of researchers are on a mission to improve the quality of life for Australians living with a spinal cord injury through groundbreaking electrical stimulation treatment.

"This project commissioned by CQUniversity is dedicated to researching effective solutions for those with spinal cord injuries'" said Dr Bochkezanian.

"Our key focus is activating muscles that are paralysed to improve overall muscular function – in turn benefiting a person's health by improving their cardiovascular health' metabolic health and decreasing spasms.

"The future of bionics is in collaboration' and we encourage those across the state to enter the Bionics Challenge 2022 to help accelerate leading-edge healthcare solutions' like our early-stage E-stim technology'" she said.

One E-Stim research participant is 42-year-old Rockhampton local Stuart Harreveld' after a motorcycle accident in 2003 caused him to become paraplegic.

Like the thousands of Australians with a spinal cord injury' Stuart's road accident trauma impacts his quality of life and ability to live independently and maintain his health.

"Prior to my motorcycle accident' I was a chef by trade. Following my accident and six months of rehab at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane' I moved back to Rockhampton to be closer to family'" said Mr Harreveld.

"One of the major challenges I face is working to maintain my health and wellbeing. Since taking part in the E-Stim project at CQU' I have seen a decrease in nerve pain and reduced muscle spasms."

The Bionics Challenge 2022 has a $200 000 prize pool courtesy of Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) for Grand Challenge winners and $40 000 in overall cash for Early-Stage Bionic Innovation Award winners (QLD)' a Morgans Financial Limited National Bionics Innovation Prize offering $30 000 in cash' plus expert advice on funds attraction (National)' a Clem Jones Bionics Innovation Prize For Young Aspiring Neuroscientists (QLD) and a Student's Bionic Innovation Challenge with a total $15 000 in cash prizes (QLD).

For more information on the Bionics Challenge 2022' visit www.bionicsqueensland.com.au