Gold Coast quadriplegic doctor to test a world first rehab program

Griffith University scientists and engineers are aiming to use their ground breaking 3D computer simulated biomechanical model to help local doctor, Dinesh Palipana, walk again.

A car accident on the Gateway Motorway left Mr Palipana quadriplegic, part-way through his medicine degree back in 2010.

When he graduated from Griffith University in 2016, Dinesh Palipana became Queensland’s first quadriplegic doctor.


Now, Dr Palipana is thinking about pushing the pedals of a specially-adapted recline bike, which uses electronic muscle stimulation to allow him to move the bike with his brainwaves.

This technology is the first step towards a world-first integrated neuro-musculoskeletal rehabilitation program, and it’s being developed right here on the Gold Coast, at the Health and Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP)

Professor Lloyd from Griffith’s Menzie Health Institute Queensland says the technology could eventually see Dr Palipana recover from his quadriplegia.

“The idea is that a spinal injury or neurological patient can think about riding the bike. This generates neural patterns, and the biomechanical model sits in the middle to generate control of the patient’s personalised muscle activation patterns,” Professor Lloyd said.

“These are then personalised to the patient, so that they can then electrically stimulate the muscles to make the patient and bike move.”

Dr Palipana says he is excited to be part of such a novel approach to spinal injury rehab, as both a researcher and patient.

“We’ve had equipment for many years where people passively exercise using stationary bikes, and stationary methods where people get on and the equipment moves their legs for them,” Dr Palipana said.

“The problem is you really need some stimulation from the brain.

“As the years go by we’re starting to realise that the whole nervous system is very plastic and it has to be trained, so actually thinking about moving the bike or doing an activity stimulates the spinal cord from the top down and that creates change.

“It’s my university, my hospital, my city – it’s just really nice to be part of that,” he said.