The highs and lows of Steve Plain

From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, this is the story of an extraordinary man attempting to accomplish an incredible dream.

Meet Steve Plain. Three years ago, Steve was lying in hospital in Perth and was told by doctors that he may have to face life in a wheelchair. Now he is attempting to climb the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents in world-record time.

In December 2014, Steve was out on a regular swim at Perth’s Cottesloe beach when he was dumped by a wave and driven head first into the sand. Steve lay head-down in the water, unable to breathe. Lifesavers rushed to Steve’s aid, pulling him out of the water and rushing him to hospital.

In the hospital, doctors told Steve he had sustained a C2, C3 and C7 spinal cord injury as well a contorted spinal cord, ruptured disc, dissected artery, torn ligaments and more.

The initial prospect for a full recovery looked grim for Steve, with doctors predicting that he may never regain full movement.  “Lying in a hospital bed with an uncertain prognosis was frustrating and frightening. I had never felt so weak or hopeless.

What followed Steve’s diagnosis was months of intensive rehabilitation wearing a halo brace. Steve was determined to prove the doctors wrong; “…Somewhere amongst all the self-pity, I made a promise to myself that I would come through this fitter and stronger than I was before.

Steve’s sheer determination and strength led to the creation of an incredible dream; Project 7in4. Climbing the highest peak on each of the world’s seven continents in under 4 months.

Steve’s world-record attempt will begin with climbing Mount Vinson in Antarctica in January 2018 and will finish off with climbing Mount Everest in May.

Whilst on his journey Steve aims to raise awareness and funds for two charities related to his accident. After his close shave with paralysis he will be helping those not so lucky by supporting SpinalCure Australia and in recognition of the help of the life savers who pulled him out of the surf, he is also supporting Surf Life Saving WA.

SpinalCure Australia’s CEO Duncan Wallace, commended Steve’s choice to raise funds and awareness for Project Edge, a collaborative venture between SpinalCure and UTS.

“We are extremely grateful to Steve for choosing to support SpinalCure after his all-too-close brush with spinal cord injury. And he’s chosen to do so in such an awe-inspiring way showing the same sort of courage needed by those who, unlike Steve, are living with the paralysis caused by these devastating injuries. The funds he raises will bring exciting, emerging treatments closer to these people, and on their behalf we extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to Steve.”

Money raised from Project 7in4 be equally divided between SpinalCure and Surf Life Saving WA.

Find out more about Project 7in4

Follow Steve Plain on Instagram


Project Edge update

Project Edge will be the first clinical research program outside the US to continue the development of Professor Reggie Edgerton’s ground-breaking neurostimulation treatments which are returning feeling and function to people with chronic spinal cord injury.

Professor Reggie Edgerton and Professor Bryce Vissel

Professor Edgerton, in addition to his positions at UCLA is now also a Distinguished  Professor at The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and will be joining Professor Bryce Vissel to help lead the research in the next few months.

A world-class facility is currently being constructed in UTS’ Botany facility. This arm of the new UTS Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine will house Project Edge alongside an exercise research facility incorporating a Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) NeuroMoves centre. Thanks to the Neilson Foundation and all our supporters SpinalCure has been able to commit $1million to help purchase the equipment for Project Edge.

Funding permitting clinical experiments will commence in the second half or 2018. We are working hard to raise the funds needed to make this happen and support the research team over the next 5 years.

Insurance giants back Project Edge

Two of Australia’s largest insurance firms, Swiss Re and Lloyd’s Australia have pledged their support to Project Edge. The companies hope that other insurance companies will follow suit and support the initiative, which not only will improve the life of people with a spinal cord injury but also reduce the heavy cost burden on the industry.

Read more here…

L:R Mark Senkevics, MD, Swiss Re Australia & New Zealand; Chris Mackinnon, Lloyds General Representative in Australia; Duncan Wallace, CEO, SpinalCure and Professor Bryce Vissel, Director, Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, UTS.

Lloyd’s third annual golf day proves to be a hit!

Lloyd’s Australia held its third annual Golf Day at Avondale Golf Club in November. This fundraising event once again proved to be a hit, with many attendees digging deep to help raise over $31,000. A very sincere thank you to Lloyd’s Australia General Representative, Chris Mackinnon and his team for organising and hosting the event.

We’d also like to thank all the generous supporters who donated prizes including Blackmores, Gai Waterhouse Racing, Gilchrist Connell, John Shipman at JB-HI-FI, Appliance Kitchen, Milleni Leather Goods Mark Bayfield from Bayfield Hotels and the Avondale Golf Club. A special thank you also goes to Caroline Blackmore who very generously and to our great delight donated a further $5000 to SpinalCure on the day.

Do you have a great idea for a corporate fundraiser in support of SpinalCure or Project Edge? Or would you like to donate a prize? We would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us today!

Contact Duncan Wallace , [email protected]

SpinalCure receives a grant from The Honda Foundation

We are pleased to announce that SpinalCure has received a $6,015 grant from The Honda Foundation. The Honda Foundation proudly supports organisations that are focused on helping others and in the promotion of innovation and new technologies. This grant will allow for the purchase of an examination bed and a camera for Project Edge. We’d like to thank Jason Everett from Scotts Honda for supporting us in the application process.

Australian Turf Club and SpinalCure

SpinalCure selected as 2017 Australian Turf Club Charity Partner of the Year


We are very pleased to announce that SpinalCure Australia has been chosen as this year’s Australian Turf Club Charity Partner of the Year.

Founded from the merger of the Australian Jockey’s Club and Sydney Turf Club in 2011, the Australian Turf Club (ATC) owns and operates premium Thoroughbred Racing, events and hospitality venues across Sydney.

“The Australian Turf Club prides itself on being one of the world’s most desirable destinations for thoroughbred racing, events and hospitality.”

The club places significant and genuine emphasis on community engagement, with a key area of focus on partnering with charities to provide opportunities for fundraising.

Given the unfortunate but very real connection between spinal cord injury and horse-racing and the high-level of support SpinalCure receives from some of the industry’s most notable riders and representatives, the synergistic partnership is fantastic step in the right direction for helping those injured while participating in one of our nation’s most cherished sporting traditions.

SpinalCure CEO Duncan Wallace commented “We are honoured and delighted to have been chosen as the ATC charity partner for this year. The awareness and support this will help generate will take us closer to the day when a spinal cord injury is no longer a life sentence. 

 It can be a long way from the saddle to the ground and sadly spinal cord injuries do occur. However, promising interventions that help restore feeling and function, such as the neurostimulation treatment that we are introducing to Australia via Project Edge, are under development and with the support of the ATC we will see them become available even sooner.

To help support us in our newly founded partnership, be sure to purchase your Longines Golden Slipper pins at the Rosehill Gardens racing events Mar 11 and 18 and stay tuned for more news and events to come throughout the year.

We are also looking for volunteers Mar 11 and 18 to help sell pins at Rosehill Gardens. 100% of proceeds from the sale of each $5 pin go to SpinalCure to support research for a cure.

Please contact Kathryn Borkovic by emailing [email protected] if you would like to help out.

Learn more about ATC   Donate to SpinalCure

Queensland researchers are launching a world-first clinical trial aimed at improving recovery from spinal cord injuries.

In the study, led by The University of Queensland and The Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, a new anti-inflammatory drug will be given to participants within hours of spinal trauma in an effort to minimise tissue damage.

Dr Marc Ruitenberg from the UQ School of Biomedical Sciences said when the spinal cord is injured, it becomes inflamed and this causes a lot of additional damage.

Dr Mark Ruitenberg
Dr Mark Ruitenberg PhD

“Up until now, doctors had no real treatment options to deal with this problem,” Dr Ruitenberg said.

“What we discovered in our animal studies is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy can reduce this harmful inflammation and, excitingly, significantly improve the recovery from serious spinal cord injuries.”

Spinal surgeon Dr Kate Campbell, who is heading up the trial with Dr Ruitenberg, said one of the great benefits of IVIg is that it is quite safe and already used in the hospital for other conditions.

“As a result, we have been able to quickly progress this treatment from the lab to the clinic,” she said.

The trial will run for three years and will aim to recruit 20 participants through the PA Hospital, which is Queensland’s primary centre for spinal injury care.

Queensland Health estimates that 90 people sustain spinal cord injuries in the state each year.

“Sadly, the summer holidays can be a busy time for spinal wards,” Dr Campbell said.

“It’s a time when people are travelling, heading to the beach and spending time outdoors, and unfortunately it’s a time when accidents occur.

“We hope this research will help the recovery of those who suffer these serious injuries.

“It can happen to anyone and we therefore urge people to be careful.”

Dr Ruitenberg’s pre-clinical work received funding support from the Wings for Life Foundation and SpinalCure Australia, while CSL Behring has provided IVIg and funding for the clinical trial.

Dr Andrea Douglas, Vice President R&D Strategy and External Affairs at CSL, said the use of intravenous immunoglobulin in this setting is a novel application for one of CSL’s flagship therapies.

“Spinal injuries are devastating, and with few options available to effectively treat the inflammation that occurs, we are very pleased that Dr Ruitenberg’s team are getting closer to finding a solution.”

Media: Dr Marc Ruitenberg, [email protected], 07 3346 7602; Kim Lyell, [email protected], 07 33465214, 0427 530647.