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Students/Faculty News Mark Lanzi September 28, 2023

Causes of Injury since 2015: 37.6% vehicular, 31.5% falls, 15.4% violence, 8.3% sports, 3.6% medical, 3.6% other.September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month in the United States. There are roughly 300,000 people with spinal cord injury and 18,000 new diagnoses each year in the country, according to the UAB National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

In recognition of the month, we are highlighting the history and impactful work of CEDHARS’ close partners in PM&R. These two centers are internationally recognized for their work in the field of SCI.

  • UAB Department of PM&R has a rich history of independent and collaborative SCI research through two of its core, long-standing, federally funded grants from NIDRR/NIDILRR.
    • The UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) was one of seven SCIMS initially funded in 1972. The UAB SCIMS is currently funded through 2026 and stands as the oldest and only SCIMS continuously funded since the program’s inception.
    • Dr. Rachel Cowan is the project director (since 2022), who is the first person living with spinal cord injury to lead the UAB SCIMS.
    • The SCIMS studies the course of recovery and outcomes of persons with spinal cord injury through a coordinated, multidisciplinary system of care, conduct research that contributes to evidence-based rehabilitation interventions and clinical practice guidelines.
    • The program continues to generate new knowledge that is used to improve outcomes of persons with spinal cord injury.
  • In 1983, UAB began a fee-based data management service for the SCIMS. In 1984, NIDRR/NIDILRR re-established funding for the SCIMS National Data and Statistical Center; UAB was awarded and became known as the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.
    • Dr. Yuying Chen has been the director since 2005. The NSCISC provides knowledge, resources, and services that support the SCIMS Program and Database.
    • The ultimate goal of the center is to advance medical rehabilitation through increasing the rigor and efficiency of scientific efforts to longitudinally assess the experience of people with SCI.
    • The SCIMS Database is the largest and longest running traumatic SCI research database in the world. It is used to study trends over time in the longitudinal course of the physical and psychosocial well-being of people with traumatic SCI, serve as the base of knowledge to improve rehabilitation standards, and promote research.

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