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I think Rick Hansen said it best when articulating how far we’ve come in the last 25 years. So much has changed and much of that is due to the collective commitment of the dedicated people and organizations around the world to improve the lives of people with spinal cord injury and the awareness that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Since inception, the Rick Hansen Institute has served as a catalyst for collaboration among SCI researchers, clinicians, industry partners, individuals with SCI and others. Whether it is by bringing together a network of researchers and clinicians working on the Rick Hansen SCI Registry, or collaborating on research projects and clinical trials, we remain dedicated to being agents of change so that the most promising discoveries and treatments will reach people with SCI.
This CEO Update is dedicated to highlighting some of the invaluable partnerships we have made along the way. Partnerships we will continue to grow and ones which will enrich the landscape of SCI research and care.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our dedicated Board of Directors and staff for their outstanding work. MoneySense Magazine recently ranked RHI as one of 2015’s Best Charities in Canada with an “A+” ranking. It is validation that we are making the right investments – on people and resources – so that we can maximize the impact of our work.
From discovery research to translating those discoveries and implementing them into treatments for people with SCI, it takes an army of dedicated professionals and like-minded organizations working together towards a common goal to reduce the impact of paralysis after SCI.
One organization at the forefront of discovery and clinical SCI research is ICORD. A research centre in the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, ICORD includes 41 Principal Investigators, nine Investigators, and nine Associate Members dedicated to the development and translation of more effective strategies to promote prevention, functional recovery and improved quality of life after SCI. ICORD’s work is complementary to RHI, which focuses on translating research and implementing best practices, and since both organizations are located in the same building, the partnership was destined from the beginning.
Every year, care and treatment for traumatic SCI costs our health system approximately $2.7 billion. As the population ages, the number of injured and the related care costs grow. Despite the amount of funding that supports basic research, few discoveries reach their potential and the various transitions from bench-to-bedside research are so fraught with obstacles that they are often referred to as “valleys of death”. Praxis is RHI’s solutions-focused model that was developed to help overcome these obstacles in SCI research in order to achieve improved health outcomes for people with SCI and decrease the financial impact on the healthcare system.
RHI recently invited a number of experts in the field to comment on our model – to begin a dialogue on what works, what does not and how we can improve upon it.
A new study hopes to prove benefits of telehealth initiatives for bladder management in people with spinal cord injuries
Telehealth is becoming a popular intervention between patients and their physicians as it allows people to monitor their health from the comfort of their own homes. It is an especially valuable option for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) who may require regular visits with a specialist. Many of these individuals spend hours preparing to go out to see a physician, travel long distances to make their appointments, or have restricted mobility and accessibility issues. Conducting visits via telehealth makes it easier for people with SCI to meet with their specialists and helps prevent secondary complications from escalating, avoiding potentially life-threatening complications and reducing the burden on the healthcare system.
Funded by the Rick Hansen Institute, a new study is assessing the impact of telehealth in bladder management for individuals with spinal cord injury. Urinary tract infections are a common secondary complication for people with SCI that can diminish their quality of life and lead to emergency room visits for urgent treatment. The Home-based observations and monitoring of events related to urinary tract infections in SCI (HOME-SCI) study, will look at two different technologies and determine whether or not those technologies help individuals monitor their bladder health and catch potential problems before they become more serious.
Last year, RHI announced two funding opportunities – Clinical Outcome Measures (COM) and Pilot Studies – Optimizing Neurorecovery Following SCI (PSON). Proposals submitted underwent a thorough review process to ensure alignment to RHI’s goals, relevancy and scientific merit. Five projects from COM and two projects from PSON were selected for funding after undergoing the review process. The projects represent a diverse cross-section of research focusing on secondary complications that are critically important to improving the health and well-being of people living with SCI.
“All successful projects further strengthen RHI’s research portfolio and will help identify the most promising SCI research to be translated into treatments for people with SCI”, said Bill Barrable, CEO of RHI.
As a component of our Commercialization Program, RHI is actively developing a number of industry partnerships. We specifically sought out partnerships with industry as companies are often the most effective vehicle for bringing a new technology to market and implementing the technology into healthcare delivery. These partnerships were developed out of co-funding relationships on specific projects, such as projects awarded funding through the Preclinical SCI Research Towards Cures and Emerging Interventions & Innovative Technologies funding competitions in 2014. The partnerships include large multi-national companies like AbbVie, as well as start-ups like SENSIMAT Systems and Self Care Catalysts. Stay tuned for more information on the projects and the partnerships.