ONF/REPAR Grant to address SCI rehab interventions

A new research collaborative, Rehabilitation Intervention for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury in the Community (RIISC), has received a two-year grant to study how changes to the rehabilitation process could reduce the incidence of fractures, risk of heart disease and other metabolic diseases such as diabetes in those with SCI. The grant was awarded through the partnership between the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) and the Quebec Rehabilitation Research Network/Réseau Provincial de Recherche en Adaptation-Réadaptation (REPAR).

“We have a goal to bring together researchers, clinicians, health policy and community partners in order to change the way rehabilitation is provided for this patient group,” says project leader Dr. Cathy Craven. This is the third REPAR/ONF funded research project led by Dr. Craven.

“The research will study some specific areas: active sitting time; modifying the risks for heart disease and fracture; improving risk assessment processes; developing new treatment guidelines for cardio-metabolic and osteo diseases; and increasing the understanding of the connection between exercise and overall health outcomes for those living with SCI,” she explains. Encouraging participation of community-based rehabilitation program and engagement of student researchers are included in the project plan.

The project emerged following a literature review of health issues common in those who had SCI. After the trauma of a spinal cord injury, the body changes its composition in response to the change in activity levels and the physical stresses associated with long periods of time being confined to a wheelchair.

“The statistics indicate the one in 10 Canadians with SCI will suffer a fracture and those living with SCI are also at higher risk for heart disease,” says Dr. Craven. “We will study the impact of a variety of interventions that could be included in the rehabilitation process that may reduce the risk of occurrence for metabolic diseases.”

The grant supporting their work was awarded through the partnership between the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) and the Quebec Rehabilitation Research Network/Réseau Provincial de Recherche en Adaptation-Réadaptation (REPAR). The partnership was established in 2007 as an initiative to facilitate and support neurotrauma researchers from Ontario and Quebec to collaborate in order to attract federal funding, build research capacity and increase the impact of their work. More than 100 researchers have been engaged in joint projects to-date and have been able to leverage almost $20-million in research funding. The Winter Edition of NeuroMatters featured the announcement of the ABI research grant.