Michigan Medicine receives grant recognizing it as a top U.S. program for spinal cord injury

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Joining fewer than 20 health systems in the United States, Michigan Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation received a federal research grant for spinal cord injury – reflecting its comprehensive care for patients with SCI and signifying the program as a national leader in the field.

Michigan Medicine rejoins the Spinal Cord Injury Model System program, a network of health systems supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to serve as center of excellence for SCI research and clinical care. The University of Michigan had previously been funded as SCIMS Center from 1985 until 2016.

This time, Michigan Medicine is partnering with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., to form the Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Model System with the vision of enhancing health care and quality of life for individuals living and aging with SCI throughout the state.

There are nearly 300,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the country. As therapies advance that allow individuals with SCI to live longer, healthier lives, the range of treatments required for the population is extensive and encompasses acute and post-acute care.

“Most health care providers have neither the awareness nor the training to support individuals with spinal cord injury, and we plan to develop and integrate the tools and research to enhance health and facilitate proactive clinical decision making through the work of this SCI model system,” said Michelle Meade, Ph.D.(link is external), co-principal investigator of MI-SCIMS, co-director of the U-M Center for Disability Health and Wellness and professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at U-M Medical School.

The group’s site-specific research project will develop and test the reliability and predictive validity of an SCI Hospitalization Risk Index. The tool will use information extracted from claims data, as well as electronic health records, to predict hospitalization for adults with chronic SCI using machine learning. Researchers will also assess the relationships between executive functioning, self-management and psychosocial outcomes among adults with chronic SCI to inform future interventions.

“Ultimately, the goal is to maintain and improve the health, well-being and quality of life of individuals with SCI and encourage gratifying, fulfilling relationships and experiences in their homes and in their communities,” said Gianna Rodriguez, M.D., co-principal investigator of MI-SCIMS and an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at U-M Medical School.

Official funding for the Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Model System will start on Sept. 1, 2022, however both Michigan Medicine and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation are already collaborating to conduct research activities and ensure excellence in clinical care for individuals with SCI.

About Michigan Medicine: At Michigan Medicine, we advance health to serve Michigan and the world. We pursue excellence every day in our five hospitals, 125 clinics and home care operations that handle more than 2.3 million outpatient visits a year, as well as educate the next generation of physicians, health professionals and scientists in our U-M Medical School.

Michigan Medicine includes the top ranked U-M Medical School and University of Michigan Health, which includes the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, University Hospital, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan Health West and the Rogel Cancer Center. The U-M Medical School is one of the nation’s biomedical research powerhouses, with total research funding of more than $500 million.