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Spinal Cord Injury: Progress, Promise, and Priorities

Armen Hareyan's picture

Spinal Cord Injury

It is estimated that 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur each year in the United States and that 247,000 Americans are living with a spinal cord injury. In the past several decades there has been significant progress in improving patient survival and emergency care and in expanding the range of rehabilitative options. With the recently discovered potential that the central nervous system can regenerate and repair, it is anticipated that a concerted research effort on spinal cord injuries could result in important gains in restoring function and improving quality of life.

In order to better realize potential research gains, the Institute of Medicine was asked to look at research priorities for funders of spinal cord research - federal and state agencies, academic organizations, pharmaceutical and device companies, and nonprofit organizations. The resulting report, titled Spinal Cord Injury: Progress, Promise, and Priorities, provides a broad overview of the current status of spinal cord injury research, examines the research and infrastructure needs, and provides recommendations for advancing and accelerating progress in the treatment of spinal cord injuries with particular attention to issues regarding translational research.

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The report identified three key efforts as the focus of the recommendations:

  • focus on increasing knowledge of basic neurobiology and therapeutic approaches;

  • emphasize and coordinate translational multidisciplinary research and clinical trials; and

  • strengthen the research infrastructure and enhance training.

The report was sponsored by the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research Board and also presents recommendations specific to the New York program.