Hansen and his Man in Motion entourage were on hand yesterday at the Health Sciences Centre as hospital-officials announced the establishment of the centre.
A crowd of more than 100 hospital staff patients and well-wishers greeted Hansen as he wheeled into the foyer of HSC's Rehabilitation Centre.
Hansen told the crowd spinal cord research is one of the new frontiers in medical research.
"There has been very little energy on a relative scale focused on this area," he said.
But research done to date has brightened the hopes and lives of many spinal injury victims, he said.
"I believe for all of us that have suffered a spinal cord injury, there's got to be hope."
John Lane, executive director of the local office of Canadian Paraplegic Association also welcomed the announcement.
Many quadriplegics and paraplegics suffer from a "pile of frustrations" including poor bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction. and poor muscle control, he said.
Dedicated research can provide short and long-term solutions to the problems plaguing spinal injury victims, he added.
The centre's $1.35-million, five-year budget will be financed by a fund raising campaign jointly organized by the research foundation and the Canadian Paraplegic Association, said Terry Wright, chairman of the board of the HSC Research Foundation.
Sun Photo by RICK MacWILLIAM
Stephen Gladstone from St. Amant Centre cheers on Rick Hansen at the ceremony yesterday
Dr. Hy Dubo said researchers and clinicians will strive towards more effective early treatment, rehabilitation and an eventual cure for spinal cord injury victims.
"The research we want to expand on is the quality of life," Dubo said. "A lot of headway's been made but there's still a long way to go."
Research in that area includes improving muscular function and control, especially for those patients with bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction, he said.
Dr. Susan Shefchyk, one of the HSC staffers who'll be working at the new centre, said spinal cord research is like deciphering a complex communications web.
"What (victims) are left with is a disruption in the communications."
However, tracing the gaps in the body's nerve network is a time-consuming, detailed process, she said.