Physiotherapist Isabelle Robidoux has seen first-hand the positive impact of collaborative spinal cord injury research initiatives, led and managed by the Rick Hansen Institute.
In addition to Isabelle’s full-time position at the Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal (IRGLM), the centre of specialization for SCI rehabilitation in western Québec, she is also the local site coordinator for the Rick Hansen SCI Registry for IRGLM and the Centre de réadaptation Lucie Bruneau (CRLB). Her work includes informing and registering patients in the Registry, and conducting follow up interviews about their progress. This information is added to similar data collected globally through the Rick Hansen SCI Registry, which provides the valuable baseline information needed to greatly accelerate spinal cord injury research now and in the future. To date, over 3,300 people have participated in the Registry, which currently grows by about 600 people a year.
Isabelle has worked on other Rick Hansen Institute projects—the Access to Care and Timing project to study a means of improving the timeliness and quality of acute and rehabilitation care for individuals with SCI; the Rehabilitation Environmental Scan Atlas (E-Scan,which aims to standardize and transform SCI rehabilitation by 2020), and with the Knowledge Mobilization Network (KMN), currently helping to determine and implement best practices for the treatment of pressures sores and pain (which is an important challenge to solve, as 30% of patients with SCI are affected, and they cost the Canadian health system close to $3 billion a year).
The collaborative approach among her colleagues and patients yields many benefits.
"By involving clinicians and patients, we develop new approaches and improve their quality of life. Patients have so much to deal with after a SCI. Even the smallest obstacle can become a huge issue," she noted in an interview. "Patients want to contribute to the development of new approaches and to help others in the future, and it’s very encouraging for them to see that researchers are looking at a possible cure for their future.