Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): NICHD Research Goals

NICHD research related to SCI is focused on increasing the health, productivity, independence, well-being, and recovery of all people living with SCI. The intent is to develop social, physical, and behavioral rehabilitation treatments for people with spinal-injury disabilities while also performing and supporting basic research in such fields as neurology, neurophysiology, osteology, biochemistry, motor control, and neuromechanics as a foundation for these developments.

The NICHD's research efforts on SCI include a range of overlapping areas:

  • Understanding of the biochemistry of the normal, wounded, and healing spinal cord
  • Developing new tools that can scan and provide images of living tissue to diagnose the extent of SCI
  • Understanding the mechanisms of bladder and bowel infections and how to prevent them
  • Understanding the mechanisms and means of prevention of other secondary complications of SCI, such as pressure sores, blood clots, pneumonia, spasticity, sexual dysfunction, and neuropathic pain
  • Investigating the biochemistry of nerve regeneration
  • Improving the quality of life of individuals with SCI (e.g., improved accessibility for activities of daily living [ADLs]; improved upper limb function or functional mobility)
  • Helping people with SCI adapt their behavior to the loss of sensory, motor, and organ-control function
  • Assessing the efficacy and outcomes of medical rehabilitation therapies and practices in spine-injured people
  • Developing improved assistive technologies for the SCI population
  • Understanding whole-body−system responses of spine-injured people to physical impairments and functional changes
  • Developing more precise methods of measuring impairments, disabilities, and both societal and functional limitations
  • Training research scientists in the field of rehabilitation
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