The David Prast Fellowship is in honour of the late David Prast: a leader and inspirational thinker whose determination led to better outcomes for those, like him, who experienced a spinal cord injury. A successful businessman, he used his drive to become a major advocate for people with spinal injuries after a freak accident at Cottosloe beach, Perth.
His achievements included establishing the first state government Neurotrauma Research Program in Western Australia (the first of several state funded bodies providing much needed funds for spinal cord injury research).
He helped promote the potential importance of stem cell research and pioneered a global campaign to cure paralysis (International Campaign to Cure Paralysis). This resulted in greater awareness and the development of clinical trial methodologies that are currently used for clinical trials in spinal cord injury repair and protection.
One of his most important achievements was the establishment of the successful NeuroMoves exercise programs – now running nationally by Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) – to provide people with intensive exercise after an accident. First called ‘Walk On’, this is an individually tailored suite of exercise services designed to assist a person with a spinal cord injury to improve and maximise their functional ability and to help them lead more independent lives.
David’s vision was all about ensuring that the latest scientific and medical developments from around the world were made available to people in Australia and as a Director of both SpinalCure and SCIA, he would have been passionate about both organisations working together to support UTS’s groundbreaking new Centre of Neuroscience.