Spinal cord injury rehabilitation research: patient priorities, current deficiencies and potential directions.

Research paper by Karen R Whalley KR Hammell

Indexed on: 06 Feb '10Published on: 06 Feb '10Published in: Disability and rehabilitation


Purpose. To highlight research priorities of people with spinal cord injury (SCI), outline the current state of rehabilitation research and suggest potentially fruitful avenues for future inquiry. Method. Commentary. Results. People with SCI identify pain, depression, fatigue, pressure sores, spasticity and the management of bladder and bowel as research priorities. Research reveals multiple interconnections between these secondary problems, all of which negatively impact quality of life (QOL). However, despite a substantial volume of existing research, significant gaps in knowledge remain, duplications of research effort are apparent and few interventions have an adequate evidence base. Issues concerning community participation - another research priority - have only recently attracted researchers' attention. Conclusions. This commentary contends that research should: focus on issues and outcomes of relevance and importance to people living with SCI; address the complexities of secondary conditions and their inter-relationships; appraise environmental barriers to participation in meaningful living; be designed to identify and inform effective and relevant interventions. Innovative approaches to research partnerships, mixed methods and exploring variables usually omitted from quantitative studies might enhance the likelihood that the complexity of issues facing people living with SCI will be identified and addressed. Moreover, a governing focus on achieving lives experienced as hopeful, purposeful, satisfying and meaningful could contribute to enhancing QOL outcomes following SCI.