Accelerating spinal cord research into care

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Parkwood Hospital, part of St. Joseph’s Health Care London, has been selected as one of four initial Canadian centres to promote excellence in spinal cord injury (SCI) best practices.

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF), in collaboration with the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) selected Parkwood for this initiative aimed at accelerating promising spinal cord research discoveries into care because of the spinal cord expertise of its researchers and care providers.

“Thousands of research discoveries are made every year, but translating that research into effective patient care practices can take years, and sometimes it never happens at all,” explains Jane Hsieh, associate scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and the implementation science co-lead overseeing the project.

“The support of ONF and RHI allows us to speed up this process by removing barriers such as demands on clinicians’ time, inadequate training and support, and insufficient resources,” says Dr. Dalton Wolfe, associate scientist with Lawson, SCI research theme leader and co-lead on this initiative.

Researchers and clinicians will review research evidence and decide which spinal cord injury practices to implement. The SCI team will implement these practices and evaluate their effectiveness in collaboration with other Canadian rehabilitation facilities. The three best practice areas of focus are: pressure ulcer, bladder management and pain.

Anna Kras-Dupuis, a clinical nurse specialist with previous experience in implementing new practices in clinical care and a clinical lead for the project says, “Taking this systematic approach to implementing research evidence at the bedside will hopefully make a real difference to the lives of SCI patients. We have an exceptional SCI team and we are fortunate to work side by side with our researchers. This is a unique scenario.”

Jane, Anna and Dalton are leading the consensus process across the network to determine the priority practices for implementation and related performance indicators for measuring the success of the implementation efforts. This was initiated by developing a suite of online resources to enable collaboration between Parkwood and the other sites selected for this initiative by ONF and RHI: the Lyndhurst Spinal Cord Centre (part of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute), Institut de Réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay de Montréal and Institut de Réadaptation en Déficience Physique de Québec, and more recently Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton and Calgary Foothills Hospital.