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Consumer Program

Consumer Program

Our Consumer Program aims to engage people with spinal cord injury in the research process, by improving awareness of SCI research knowledge and value while enhancing opportunities for people with SCI to make evidence-based health decisions.

About the Program

Through the Consumer Program, our goal is to support evidence-based health decisions during a time of high need and difficulty, and to engage people with SCI in the research process by improving awareness of SCI research knowledge and value. Additionally, the program aims to identify activities that could engage consumers, prioritize potential opportunities and collaborate to leverage resources to improve consumer engagement in research activities at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (a state-of-the-art facility that brings together SCI specialists under one roof).

The objectives of the Consumer Program are to increase consumer involvement in a multi-disciplinary collaborative partnership between researchers, care providers and industry for maximum impact on health and quality of life of those living with SCI.

ConsumerRoadmap Cover

RHI's Consumer Roadmap outlines the Consumer Program objectives, areas of focus and current activities.

Areas of Focus

The Program intends to meet its objectives by: 

Research involvement – develop educational materials to encourage consumers to participate in clinical studies and to be integrated as members of research teams. 

Self-management of health – provide self-management tools and resources to people with SCI to minimize the incidence and severity of secondary complications and improve overall quality of life.

Advocacy – foster collaborations with individuals and organizations to advocate for funding and changes in practice that will improve quality of life for SCI consumers.

Advisory Committee and Roadmap

The Consumer Advisory Committee provides a representative voice for SCI consumers and their supporters. In consultation with the Consumer Advisory Committee, RHI has developed a roadmap which describes the program's objectives and activities.


Current Activities

Postcard frontAre you a researcher? Use this handy postcard that gives tips on how to engage people with lived experience in SCI research 

We often work with organizations that host events to share research knowledge with people with SCI and their families. Check out our News & Events section for the latest updates.

Get information on spinal cord injury, how to stay active and get support.

Read important information about what you should know before you participate in research

Want to learn more about SCI research? Download these fact sheets (finding SCI research news and accessing SCI research articles) to help get you started!


Commercialization Program

Commercialization Program

Our Commercialization Program focuses on facilitating increased investment into the development of innovative pre-commercial therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics with application to spinal cord injury.

About the Program

In order to bring a greater number of innovations to market, RHI launched its Commercialization Program as part of its 2013-2018 WD Business Plan. Our commercialization strategy is aimed at facilitating the development of innovative pre-commercial therapeutics and medical devices that will improve the lives of those living with spinal cord injury.

The programs' objectives include:

> Accelerating the commercialization process for innovative technologies that will benefit people with SCI.

Increase investor and industry engagement and participation in SCI research and development.

Areas of Focus

RHI will act as an accelerator for innovative technologies (therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics and health-IT technologies) that will benefit people with SCI. We will accomplish this through the following areas:

Leverage RHI’s network in support of development and commercialization initiatives and continue to expand partnerships internationally.

Support early-stage evaluation of technologies to introduce mechanisms/criteria that will proactively evaluate technologies for their applicability and benefit to people with SCI from a commercialization perspective.

Develop policy and advocacy mechanisms related to health economic evaluation, impact analysis, regulatory considerations and advocacy in order to provide the evidence for reimbursement of innovations by payers.

Global Investment Forum

RHI provides early-stage and emerging companies the opportunity to pitch their company and SCI-related technology at an event that is attended by potential investors and partners from the biotechnology and life sciences community (such as industry conferences). We have hosted three forums to date (Interdependence 2012, Biotech Showcase™ 2013, BioPharm America™ 2013). 

Learn more about past Global Investment Forums

Advisory Committee and Roadmap

The Commercialization Program is focused on leveraging the strengths and resources of RHI’s network in SCI research and care to gain development and commercialization expertise. The strategic direction of the Commercialization Program is provided by a Program Advisory Committee. This Committee’s mandate is to advise RHI on how it can best leverage it strengths, while ensuring alignment with our Cure, Care and Consumer Programs. The committee is comprised of professionals with a wide range of business development and commercialization expertise in the life sciences. The committee is chaired by Ross Mason, Healthcare Institution for National Renewal & Innovation.

In consultation with the Commercialization Advisory Committee, RHI has developed a roadmap which describes the program's objectives and activities. 


Current Projects

Below are examples of commercialization-related activites RHI supports:

Health Storylines English  
Urodynamic & Clinical Efficacy of Mirabegron English  




Care Program

Care Program

Our Care Program focuses on the creation and adoption of best practices to optimize and standardize care delivery for people with spinal cord injury and to maximize functional recovery and prevent secondary complications.

About the Program

The Care Program aims to identify and fill gaps in knowledge regarding the clinical management of SCI as well as to promote best practices in SCI care delivery for Canadians who are newly injured or those living with an existing SCI.

The objectives of the Care Program are to:

Achieve evidence-informed equitable care for Canadians who sustain a SCI.

Identify and fill important gaps in knowledge that will advance SCI care and facilitate future SCI cure(s).

While improved care will benefit the individual directly, the Care Program is also tightly linked to the Cure Program in that the standardized practice of care is a necessary precursor to the multi-site clinical research and trials to be undertaken in search of cures. The ability to better understand, measure and standardize the clinical environment will enable researchers and clinicians to provide cure-related treatments to individuals sustaining a SCI and measure the effects in clinical research and trials.

The key indicator of success for our Care Program is to have 50% of Rick Hansen SCI Registry facilities in Canada accredited by 2018, according to the SCI Standards developed in partnership with Accreditation Canada in 2012.

Areas of Focus

RHI will focus its support on the following areas, guided by a national panel of SCI experts in addition to project leaders who are currently working on a RHI-funded project that aligns with the Care Program:

Secondary complications which will focus on pressure ulcers/injuries, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections and neuropathic pain.

Neuro-recovery which will focus on activities supporting the improvement of neurological outcomes including pre-hospital triage, acute care management and rehabilitation to maximize recovery.

Long term health, wellness and community participation which will focus on creating the optimal ‘environmental’ conditions to support long-term health, wellness and participation.

Accreditation Canada implementation strategy which will focus on accreditation of RHI SCI Centres under the new SCI Acute Care and Rehabilitation Standards.

Advisory Committee and Roadmap

RHI’s Care Program is guided by a Care Advisory Committee. The committee was created to provide ongoing advice in care-related activities and recommendations on future activities. The current membership includes a comprehensive group of SCI researchers, clinicians, administrators, national partners and consumers. The current chair is Dr. Katharina Kovacs Burns, University of Alberta.

In consultation with the Advisory Committee, RHI developed a roadmap which describes the Care Program’s objectives and activities which was formalized in 2016.


Canadian Pressure Ulcer Agenda

Pressure ulcers/injuries represent the most costly preventable secondary complications for people sustaining spinal cord injuries, as well the health care systems that serve them. It is estimated that 95% of adults with SCI will experience at least one pressure ulcer/injury in their lifetime. As part of the Care Program’s focus to support secondary complications, RHI is partnering with the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) to address pressure ulcers/injuries. Through stakeholder engagement and consultation with a designated committee, the Canadian Pressure Ulcer Agenda was developed to identify objectives and activities which RHI and ONF will employ to advance SCI research and care in this area.


Current Projects

Below are examples of care-related projects RHI is currently working on:

>Rick Hansen SCI Registry

> Access to Care and Timing

> Accreditation standards in SCI care

To view a more comprehensive list of our projects and initiatives, visit Our Projects & Initiatives.

Cure Program

Cure Program

Our Cure Program focuses on the generation of knowledge and the establishment of treatments that will ultimately result in a cure for paralysis after spinal cord injury.

About the Program

The Cure Program aims to leverage RHI’s strengths and resources to participate in international collaborative efforts towards curing spinal cord injury. 

The objectives of the Cure Program are to:

> Further our understanding of the biology and physiology of SCI.

> Develop promising therapies for neuro-restoration in acute and chronic SCI.

What is our definition of cure?

At RHI, we recognize that a "cure" for paralysis after spinal cord injury may, in fact, lie in several incremental cures. We define a cure as any intervention to return a person to greater functionality after SCI whether by protecting the injured spinal cord tissue from secondary degeneration, by promoting neuroplasticity and/or regeneration, and by rehabilitation strategies that could enhance these regenerative efforts. Cure applies to the acutely (new) and chronically injured.

Areas of Focus

RHI acknowledges that there is a vast spectrum of research that is related to curing SCI – the definition itself is intentionally broad. However, based on RHI’s Cure Program objectives, RHI will focus its support on the following activities:

Support pre-clinical and clinical studies that increase our understanding of SCI or evaluate therapeutic agents, cellular treatments, rehabilitation strategies and/or management of acute SCI.

Develop a biobank or a repository of biological samples (e.g. CSF, blood, cord tissue) to support current and future international studies

Develop outcome measures to supplement the International Standards for Neurological Classicification of Spinal Cord Injury (the examination used to determine severity and location of SCI) as a measure of neurological impairment as well as improve or develop new measures of neuro-recovery.

Promote, develop and adopt international standards and datasets for use in SCI clinical research.

On occasion, RHI solicits open funding calls for funding in order to support our program objectives. 

Advisory Committee and Roadmap

The Cure Program is guided by a program advisory committee and is chaired by surgeon-scientist Dr. Brian Kwon (University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital). The Cure Advisory Committee membership is comprised of national and international SCI experts selected to provide strategic representation in clinical and preclinical research, and provides RHI with guidance on cure-related activities and recommendations for future activities.

In consultation with the Cure Advisory Committee, RHI has developed a roadmap which describes the program's objectives and activities. 


Current Projects

Below are examples of cure-related projects RHI supports:

> The Canadian Multicentre CSF Monitoring and Biomarker Study (CAMPER)

> Minocycline in Acute SCI

> Read about the projects being funded through our Preclinical Research Towards Cures funding competition

Read about the projects being funded through our Pilot Studies - Optimizing Neurorecovery Following SCI funding competition

To view are more comprehensive list of our projects, visit Our Projects & Initiatives.

Global Investment Forum

Global Investment Forum

Supporting emerging technologies for spinal cord injury

Recent advances in SCI research, particularly around neuroregenerative strategies, combined with improved quality of care has led to a more favorable environment in which to commercialize new therapies for the treatment of spinal cord injury and the associated secondary complications. To help further progress in emerging technologies for SCI, RHI has created a SCI global investment forum and support program for early stage SCI companies.

What is the RHI SCI Global Investment Forum?

The RHI SCI Global Investment Forum is a series of events that will provide a platform for emerging firms, currently seeking to commercialize an innovation directly related to minimizing the effects of paralysis following spinal cord injury, partnership opportunities with potential investors and commercial partners.

As with all Forum events, select companies will pitch to an audience of life science and biotechnology investors in an effort to solicit both the partnerships and the capital necessary to continue the commercialization process of their products. In operating the RHI SCI Global Investment Forum, RHI’s role will be to help facilitate investment for emerging firms. Forums events are not opportunities to secure funding from RHI.

The expected outcomes of this global program are:

  • Increased funding to SCI researchers and developers
  • Meaningful investment in SCI technologies and therapies
  • An established cluster of successful SCI companies

Participating in the RHI SCI Global Investment Forum

The Forum is more than a financing event; it is also a partnering event. Companies and technologies presented at the Forum are often at the pre-commercial stage with the interest in seeing their technologies progress towards commercialization. Forum participants include angel investors, venture capitalists, corporate business development executives, researchers and representatives of groups who are addressing the economic burden of SCI.

The Forum will initially be held in Canada and the United States.

Stay up-to-date

Timing and location of future RHI SCI Global Investment Forums will be determined at a later date. To receive updates about future Forum events, please join our mailing list.


For more information about the Forum, guidelines and application process, contact Jonathan Miodowski, Manager, Commercialization & Industry Relations at 604.827.1676 or email .

Past Events

    • Interdependence 2012 Session: Emerging Company Showcase, May 2012, Vancouver, BC.
    • Biotech Showcase™ 2013 Session: SCI Investment Opportunities and Challenges, January 2013, San Francisco, CA.
    • BioPharm America(TM) 2013 Session: Spinal Cord Injury - Early-stage and emerging company showcase, September 2013 Boston, MA.


Our Programs 

To meet the objectives set out in our Business Plan for 2013-2018, we developed a framework that will help focus our work, determine activities going forward and ultimately, work towards our vision of a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury. Within this framework, four key outcomes emerged in which we can measure our progress:

> SCI research accelerated towards the cure

Improved and standardized delivery of care across Canada and internationally

Increased development and commercialization of innovations

Increased opportunities for participation in research and health decision-making among consumers

These outcomes are supported by four main programs of the same name. All of RHI's projects and initiatives fall under one of more of these programs. To learn more about RHI's projects and initiatives, click here.

Learn more about our core programs:

Cure Program

Generating knowledge and establishing treatments that will lead to cures for paralysis after SCI

Care Program

Establishing new knowledge and best practices to optimize care

Commercialization Program

Facilitating increased investment in innovative technologies and therapeutics

Consumer Program

Engaging people with SCI, improving awareness and enhancing opportunities

The Rick Hansen Institute is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization that drives innovation in spinal cord injury research and care. We strive to improve the lives of people living with SCI in Canada and around the world.



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