The editors of the highly respected British medical research journal, Lancet Neurology, decided to find out. They started with over 700 questions posed by 400 respondents, more than half of whom have spinal cord injuries.
At a final consensus meeting, a group of individuals with SCI, caregivers and health professionals agreed on their top ten priorities for future research. Here is the final list, published in the December issue of Lancet:
1. Does activity-based rehabilitation, including functional electrical stimulation (FES) coupled with physical activity and hydrotherapy improve outcomes such as muscle function and neuroplasticity?
2. Does stem-cell therapy result in improved outcomes and is this dependent on the type of injury (eg, acute or chronic; complete or incomplete)?
3. Does the government healthcare plan outside the hospital, including physiotherapy, after discharge from hospital, improve health and well-being
4. What bladder management strategy is most effective in reducing the number of urinary-tract infections and secondary complications?
5. Does early mobilization, or a period of 4–6 weeks of physically active bed rest, (ie, physiotherapy exercises while lying in bed) result in improved patient outcomes after surgical spinal column stabilization?
6. Does discharge from a hospital to a physically enabling environment improve quality of life?
7. Does a special rehabilitation service, which includes multidisciplinary team planning, improve health and well-being?
8. Do interventions such as controlled fiber and fluid intake improve bowel function and quality of life?
9. What are the effects of aging on the development of complications, such as spasticity and bladder and bowel incontinence, and need for home-based support?
10. Does early diagnosis and treatment lead to improved outcomes for people with (a) Cauda Equina syndrome (drop foot) and (b) transverse myelitis (Multiple Sclerosis) (including relapses)?
The list is part of a multidisciplinary priority-setting partnership that will define the British research agenda for spinal cord injury for the next 5–10 years.
We’ll keep you posted on what they find.