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Attending Working 2 Walk: A participant's perspective

The 13th annual Working 2 Walk (W2W) Science & Advocacy Symposium was held in Vancouver on October 19 and 20, 2018. Hosted by Unite2Fight Paralysis, W2W is a consumer-driven, cures focused meeting bringing together consumers, researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders. 2018 was the first year the symposium was held outside of the USA and attracted close to 200 delegates. RHI was the title sponsor and also sponsored the attendance of 25 individuals throughout Canada.

One of the attendees, Jacques Comeau from Montreal, Quebec, shared his experience at the Symposium with us.

Jacques Comeau"My day-to-day role is as an Integration Counsellor with MEMO Quebec (Moelle épinière et motricité Québec), a community advocacy and peer support organization. I get to interact with others who are dealing with a spinal cord injury as well as their families and the staff at the rehabilitation centre in Montreal. I was recently given the opportunity to travel to Vancouver thanks to the generous invitation of the Rick Hansen Institute to attend the Working2Walk Symposium, my first time attending. This symposium brought together some of the leading researchers in Canada and the US, as well as others involved in working to improve the lives of those living with a spinal cord injury. I was pleased to see many of the spinal cord injured community had chosen to attend.

The two-day Symposium was entitled 'Building Advocacy, Empowerment, and Unity towards Finding Cures for Paralysis.' It consisted of presentations on research currently taking place, including approaches to gaining better control of bladder and bowel functions. Some surveys show that control of bowel and bladder is top of mind for those with a spinal cord injury (individuals with tetraplegia say use of their hands ranks first, with bowel and bladder coming in second). There were numerous sessions that talked about various studies being done on rats to regenerate the spinal nerves, where the goal is that these would take us towards a cure. Everyone there was given a chance to ask questions of presenters as part of discussion sessions throughout the symposium.

I came away with a much better understanding of how much is actually going on in regards to improving the life for those of us living with a spinal cord injury, and grateful for the chance to exchange ideas and experiences with such an interesting group of people! On a personal level, I found it interesting to see the variety of mobility devices that some of the disabled participants have chosen. I myself use a Quickie 747 motorized chair. I saw many quads/tetras who have chosen a lightweight manual chair with devices such as E-motion wheels, SmartDrive or others."