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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.