Jefferson's Spinal Cord Injury Center Awarded Five-Year Grant Worth
More Than $2 Million
The Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley
(RSCICDV) at Thomas Jefferson University, a cooperative program of research
and patient care between Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Magee
Rehabilitation Hospital, has received renewal of a five-year grant worth
approximately $2 million from the Department of Education's National Institute
on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The grant renewal is a significant
recognition of the continuing quality of Jefferson's Spinal Cord Injury
Center as a model system of care, having been supported by this funding
since its establishment in 1978.
Grant recognizes accomplishments and fosters improved standards
"The grant award recognizes the RSCICDV for what it has been able to
accomplish and allows us to pursue improved standards of care for the spinal
cord injured," commented John F. Ditunno, MD, chairman of rehabilitation
medicine at Jefferson. Dr. Ditunno recently served as chairman and editor
of the "International Standards for Neurological and Functional Classification
of Spinal Cord Injury," which provides a universal language for classifying
persons with spinal cord injury that has been accepted by rehabilitation
practitioners throughout the world.
Programs supported through the grant encompass collaborative research among
18 centers and a model system of care and education at the RSCICDV, which
managed more than 2,000 persons with spinal cord injury in its first 16
years. Many departments within Jefferson, including rehabilitation, orthopaedics,
neurosurgery, radiology, urology, medicine, nursing and others contribute
their expertise to the pursuit of improved methods of recovery for those
with spinal cord injury.
Collaborative research efforts
Some of the collaborative research being conducted under the auspices of
the RSCICDV includes: "Measuring Functional Outcomes After Rehabilitation";
"Parenting by Mothers with SCI"; "Establishing a National
Network of Advocacy Groups for Individuals with SCI" and "Quality
of Life after SCI."
The departments of radiology and pathology at Jefferson additionally are
involved in a unique research project that has created (Continued on page
6) aa spinal cord bank. In acute patient deaths that include a spinal cord
injury, and where family permission is granted, the department collects
and examines the cords with magnetic resonance imaging to help determine
the extent of injury and correlates this with pathological findings. So
far, the department has collected nearly ten spinal cords and expects that
its research will contribute to a better understanding of the physiology
of a spinal cord injury, which will, in turn, help researchers determine
better approaches to transplantation and rehabilitation.
The Center also is actively involved in community reintegration for its
patients and in raising community awareness of spinal cord injuries. The
grant contributes to educational programs like preventive training for Emergency
Medical Services (EMS), back-to-work and productive living training, and
peer counseling for patients and families. Staff and former patients of
the RSCICDV also interact with schools and community groups through lecture
presentations for "Think First" in which Bruce Northrup, MD, from
the department of neurosurgery serves as director.
"These types of outcome studies and active clinical research, in addition
to appropriate patient care, are able to continue with the support of this
grant," said Dr. Ditunno.