Spinal Cord Injury Researchers Unite

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Celebrating the amazing accomplishments in the field of SCI science.
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Conference attendee and postdoctoral fellow Brian Chan (pictured) is based at Toronto Rehab Lyndhurst Centre and is supervised by Dr. Cathy Craven. He is interested in the economics of spinal cord injury and rehabilitation.

Conference: American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Summit, April 2–5, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Conference Highlight: The 2019 American Spinal Injury Association Summit brought a diverse spectrum of spinal cord research under one roof.

Conference Summary: The overarching goal of the conference was to bring the latest in spinal cord injury knowledge (SCI) from all parts of the research spectrum (cells, animal models to clinical trials) to one location. The conference began with a keynote presentation by Dr. Marcel Post from the Netherlands. He talked about quality of life for individuals with SCI covering research from clinical epidemiology to psychology. The second keynote was presented by Dr. Adam Ferguson from the US. He espoused the benefits of “big data” and presented several initiatives in the US that are linking datasets together and providing open access to datasets for the research community. Dr. Michael Sofroniew was the third keynote speaker. His topic was axon regeneration in SCI. From years of research from his lab and various others, Dr. Sofroniew has constructed a new model that may encourage the regrowth of axons for individuals with SCI.

There were several ten-minute presentations on notable advances in SCI research. This included a study by Dr. Kimberley Monden on the connection of workers compensation recipients and higher use of assistive technologies, Dr. Linda Jones on developing a crosswalk table between 2 popular SCI motor scores, and Dr. Rahul Sachdeva on neuromodulation epidermal stimulation and its impact on autonomic dysreflexia. Dr. Cathy Craven also presented on the effect of functional electrical stimulation therapy on bone health. This presentation received an award.

Courses offered at the conference included one on how to successfully develop a neurotechnology that individuals would use, the current status of advocacy for SCI and finally a presentation on economic analyses for SCI. The conference was attended by hundreds of researchers, clinicians and participants mainly from the US and several other countries. This conference sparked new ideas for future research and facilitated new connections with fellow researchers in the US and beyond.