ISCoS 2016 - Vienna, Austria

November 10, 2016

Ontario researchers, many of whom are  supported by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF), were well-represented at the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) Annual Scientific Meeting in September. Held in Vienna, Austria the meeting brings together clinicians, researchers and people living with spinal cord injury (SCI) to share, discuss and debate the latest research findings in the areas of medical, surgical, rehabilitation and improvements in day-to-day living.
Sharing the outcome of research supported by ONF and partner the Rick Hansen Institute, ONF CEO Kent Bassett-Spiers, Dr. Keith Hayes and Phalung Joshi  presented study findings at a workshop regarding the challenges and opportunities in establishing and maintaining robust multi-centre clinical trials.
Based on information gathered at a 2013 and 2014 ISCoS workshop, the study team identified the significance of upfront efforts required to create sustainable international studies as a key issue. “The strategy should include a clear and objective process for project selection, funding, operationalization (including recruitment and data management), accountability and integrated knowledge translation,” according to the findings. The 2016 workshop explored the practical aspects of creating international networks and collaborations that can effectively nurture international multi-site trials.
Engaging those living with SCI (“consumers”) in health care research, Dr. Tara Jeji of ONF, discussed the Canadian perspective on engaging people with SCI in health care research. Based on her own experience and the Canadian research agenda she provided a range of criteria to researchers  identify and engage consumers in order to achieve results that are most relevant to them. ONF engages SCI stakeholders by connecting with advocates, knowledge mobilization sessions, expert panels to review research proposals and the ONF Quality of Life Committee.
“There are some essential elements that are a must if you want to engage people living with SCI in research. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has developed a model that can be adapted,” says Dr. Jeji. “At ONF we are fortunate to have very active stakeholderswho are clear about what will improve their lives. Their knowledge and perspectives have ensured research outcomes move into new clinical practice.”
Other Ontario-based presenters and workshop leaders included researchers from the University of Toronto, London Health Sciences Centre, Centre for Family Medicine Kitchener Waterloo, University Health Network and McMaster University.
ISCoS, a U.K.-based organization. Through ongoing collaboration ISCoS seeks to ensure the efficient use of resources to support international research into spinal cord injury treatment, rehabilitation and education.