Spinal Cord Injury Research Studies

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The Spinal Cord Injury research department at Kessler Foundation aims to promote recovery, address complications, evaluate new technologies, and better understand the experiences of people living with SCI and their families. 

Topics of ongoing projects include (but are not limited to):

• Identifying strategies to improve quality of life for people with SCI and chronic pain
• Evaluating wheelchair-related training programs
• Assessing potential benefits of robotic exoskeleton-assisted walking
• Identifying social, economic, and geographic factors that promote well-being
• Identifying therapies to improve function
• Preventing or managing complications such as pain, pressure ulcers, infections, obesity, blood pressure issues, and difficulties with thinking or memory
• Improving the process of training and working with caregivers

 Read below for information about our studies currently enrolling participants with spinal cord injuries: 

 

Improving the Usability of Assistive Technology at Work (flyer)

This study examines how people with SCI use assistive technology at work and how enhancing the use of assistive technology can increase productivity and job satisfaction. 

 

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals with SCI who live and work in New Jersey; must be employed and use assistive technology.

Time Commitment

1 short online survey of work-related activities & assistive technology use in the workplace.

Compensation

$25 gift card after completing online evaluation

Study Involves

Completion of online evaluation of work-related activities and the usefulness of assistive technology in the work place; some participants will receive a follow-up evaluation at their place of work & recommendations for improvements.

 

Lipogems® Injection for Chronic Shoulder Pain in Persons with Spinal Cord Injury (flyer)

The goal of Lipogems® injection is stimulation of tissue healing to improve the muscles/tendons, ligaments, and/or cartilage that are felt to be the cause or a component of shoulder pain and disability.

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals aged 18-70 with neurological impairment secondary to SCI (injury occurred at least 12 months ago), level of injury is between C6 & L5, have shoulder pain due to rotator cuff disease lasting longer than 6 months in spite of completing conservative treatment (e.g. physical therapy, medication, injections, etc.), medically cleared to receive an MRI scan.

Time Commitment

Approximately 7 visits over 1 year

Compensation

$400 ($50 for each visit & additional $50 at the end of the study).

Study Involves

Screening evaluation to determine eligibility; optional ultrasounds & MRI scans of shoulder; fat harvesting (aspiration of adipose [fat] tissue) and Lipogems® injection (approx. 1.5 to 2 hour visit); 5 follow-up visits lasting 1 hour.

 

Improving Quality of Personal Care Assistance Services for People with SCI through Online Education 

The purpose of this research study is to develop a web-based “Introduction to Spinal Cord Injury” course designed for personal care assistants (PCAs) of people with spinal cord injury.  

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals with SCI & family members of people with SCI: at least 18 years of age, Diagnosis of SCI for at least 2 years or family member of a person with SCI, at least 2 years of experience working with PCAs at least 4 days per week

PCAs: at least 18 years of age, employed as a PCA, with or without certification, at least 2 years of experience providing assistance as a PCA to one or more people with SCI

Time Commitment

One 3 hour focus group meeting & one 90 minute conference call.

Compensation

$75 ($50 for completing focus group meeting, $25 for conference call); assistance with travel expenses.

Study Involves

Participation in a focus group wherein you will be asked to share your experiences working with either individuals with SCI or PCAs, provide suggestions you may have for information presented in the online course, and answer questions about other topics related to designing the online course. You will also complete short questionnaires and participate in a conference call to review a summary of ideas the researchers developed after the initial focus group meeting.

 

Reinventing Yourself after SCI

This study involves a 6-week informational series that focuses on issues experienced by people with SCI/D and will address self-confidence, self-sufficiency, as well as teach strategies to help individuals move forward with their lives.

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals with a history of SCI/D with impairment levels AIS A-D who are at least 4 weeks post-discharge from an inpatient rehabilitation program, aged 18 years or older, have access to the internet and/or a DVD player, and fluent in English.

Time Commitment

Approximately 1 year. The treatment sessions are only during the first 6 weeks of the study and participants will be contacted by the research team by phone every 8 weeks, at four separate times.

Compensation

Up to $250.

Study Involves

Participants are randomly assigned to one of three study arms:

1)      a group treatment arm meeting with other study participants with SCI/D & a facilitator to focus on issues of self-efficacy

2)      an individual treatment arm that focuses on the same issues of self-efficacy but the content is viewed online

3)      a control arm where no sessions take place.

 

Residential Instability in Chronic SCI

This study seeks to understand why individuals move and where they move and if movers and non-movers differ in health and community participation outcomes and in healthcare access and use.  

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals with a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Time Commitment

If SCIMS database participant: 20-30 minutes

If non-SCIMS database participant: 40-60 minutes.

Compensation

If SCIMS database participant: $25

If non-SCIMS database participant: $50.

Study Involves

Participants complete a survey over the phone.

 

Complementary and Integrative Healthcare (CIH) used by People with SCI

Researchers are seeking to learn more about traumatic spinal cord injury and different types of healthcare being used by people with SCI.

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals with a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) who are participants in the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System.

Time Commitment

Approximately 30 minutes.

Compensation

$25.

 

Study Involves

Participants complete a survey over the phone.

 

Efficacy of Denosumab to Prevent Bone Loss in Ambulatory and Non-ambulatory Motor-Incomplete Patients with Subacute SCI

In this double-blind study, individuals with subacute, motor incomplete SCI will be administered the study drug, Denosumab or a placebo and monitored by the study team over the course of 1 year.

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

-Individuals who have a motor incomplete SCI [American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) grade C and D] which occurred less than 6 months ago

-Males aged 18-65, females aged 18-50.

Time Commitment

Approximately 1 year (6 study visits total, lasting 1-4.5 hours each).

 

Compensation

Up to $400.

Study Involves

Participants will receive either Denosumab or a placebo by subcutaneous (under the skin) injection at baseline and 6 months. Investigators will assess your physical activity, function, and ability to walk using special test made individuals with SCI, physical activity monitoring, and the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) for neurological classification assessment.

 

Equality and Quality in Assistive Technology for Individuals with SCI (EQUATE)

The purpose of this study is to collect information so that SCI professionals can improve treatment, care, and outcomes of people with traumatic spinal cord injury.

Key Study Criteria (additional criteria may apply)

Individuals with a non-progressive spinal cord injury that occurred at least one year ago.

 

Time Commitment

One 45 minute session.

 

Compensation

Individuals who participated in the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System will be compensated $25. Individuals who have not completed the questionnaires as part of the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System will be compensated $75.

Study Involves

Participants will complete questionnaires about themselves and the assistive technology they use. Some participants will be contacted about a second phase of the study, which is administered by researchers at the University of Pittsburg.

 

 Additional inclusion/exclusion criteria may apply. Contact ResearchStudies@KesslerFoundation.org for more information.

 

Have other questions? Click here to view Frequently Asked Questions about our research.

Want to see other studies? Click here to return to our "Join Our Research Studies" page.

To contact our Research Recruitment Specialist directly, email researchstudies@kesslerfoundation.org.

If you are interested in enrolling in these studies, fill out the form below. Our research recruitment specialist will contact you.