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Spinal Cord Injuries Model Systems Program

Current Section  Purpose
 Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Home

Program Office: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)

CFDA Number: 84.133N
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants
Also Known As: SCI

Program Description

The Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) program, established in 1970, studies the course of recovery and outcomes following the delivery of a coordinated system of care for individuals with spinal core injury (SCI). Under this program, SCIMS centers provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to individuals with SCI and conduct spinal cord research, including clinical research. This includes the analysis of standardized data gathered in collaboration with other SCIMS projects. The National Data and Statistical Center for Spinal Cord Injurydisclaimer has maintained data collection for the SCIMS centers since 1984.

The project activities from these centers continued to advance research knowledge in spinal cord injury to evaluating the effectiveness of pushrim activated power assist wheelchairs (PAPAWs). The leadership provided by the Model Spinal Cord Injury Centers has set standards for assessment, treatment, and management of individuals with SCI for the nation and the world. In cooperation with the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) disclaimer, former and current project directors developed standards for examination and neurologic classification of SCI, which was adopted for use in the International Standards for the Classification of Spinal Cord Injury. The Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI)disclaimer has become the outcome standard for the measure of walking in clinical trials. In 2003, the European Clinical Trials Group in SCI adopted the WISCI as the major functional walking measure.

The Craig Handicap Assessment Reporting Technique (CHART) disclaimer is one of the first measures ofparticipation and the Craig Hospital Inventory of Environmental Factors (CHIEF disclaimer), one of the first measures of environmental factors in the disability literature. The CHART instrument is trademarked and well-published in the premier rehabilitation journals with psychometric data (validated with Rasch analysis). CHART has been adopted for use as an outcome measure in numerous research studies as a measure of participation. CHIEF has been adopted for use as an outcome measure in both the National Data and Statistical Center for SCI disclaimer and TBI. disclaimer Both CHART and CHIEF have been translated into Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and French and used in studies around the world.

Currently, 14 SCIMS centers conduct research activities designed to improve rehabilitative interventionsthat can help optimize levelsof community participation, employment, and overallquality of life forindividuals with spinal cord injury.


Types of Projects
  1. Neuro/Trunk Assessment:
    Validation of the outcome measure, motor recovery of the lower extremities and incomplete spinal cord injury

  2. AT Technology:
    Several survey components on wheelchair mobility including emergency evacuation from home and public places, demographics, technical component of wheelchair skills, tracking employment of wheelchair users, wheelchair models—what causes disparity, wheelchair service delivery—whether provider’s prescription is appropriate.

  3. Quality of Life:
    Develop and validate a state of-the-art of activity limitations or functional ability measures.

  4. Participation:
    Identify the best measure of participation. No accepted standard method of measuring participation.

  5. Labor Force Participation:
    Assess work related issues, survey includes work related benefits, retirements, settlements, etc.

  6. Depression:
    Assess the natural history of depression within one year of SCI.


Additional Information

The Model System Spinal Cord Injury Program is one of three NIDRR Model Systems' Programs. The other two, the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems and the Burn Injury Model Systems, are technically part of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research (DRRP) Program


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Last Modified: 09/27/2012