MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital

MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital

The MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) is a facility in Washington, DC, that treats people with physical disabilities, including people with spinal cord injury (SCI). In 2009 NRH was awarded funding to set up a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) to study secondary conditions in people with SCI. A spinal cord injury causes permanent change to the body. Over time, the injury can cause other health conditions (known as secondary conditions), including conditions that the person was not at risk for before the injury.

Over 5 years (2009-2014), our Center will carry out 3 research studies and 3 training projects to study the following conditions:

1. Obesity
2. Cardiometabolic Syndrome (which is a condition that can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions)
3. Pressure Ulcers, or skin breakdowns

These 3 conditions are often the most common after an SCI and the most expensive to treat. Our studies will find new ways of preventing these conditions among people with SCI. Our Center will also focus on Reaching out to the Latino Community, African Americans and others are at risk for receiving quality health services.
NRH is a great site for this Center because it is the main provider of SCI services in the DC area and has a close relationship with the local community. The DC area has a large community that is predominantly underserved, poor, illiterate and/or non-English speaking. These individuals are often at high risk for secondary conditions. Helping these individuals, and all people with SCI live healthier lives is the goal of our Center. In fact, the NRH motto is “Adding life to years.”

It is important that people with SCI in the community have access to new information. To do this, the Center will rely on our friends at consumer and independent living organizations. Also, people with SCI have been involved in the planning of this Center and will be active during all 5 years of activities. We believe that this relationship, between researchers, doctors, and people with SCI, is important for good SCI research.

Very briefly, here is what each of our activities will do: (you can find more details on each project by clicking on the “research” tab or “training” tab on the top of this page.)

Research project 1 (R1) will find out what health conditions contribute to cardiometabolic syndrome. This is a condition that can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other harmful conditions. This study will help people with SCI determine their risk for these conditions so that they can make changes to their lifestyle.

Research project 2 (R2) will find out if a diet that includes a daily Omega-3 supplement can lower the risk of cardiometabolic syndrome.

Research project 3 (R3) will determine the best way for people with SCI to avoid pressure ulcers, or skin breakdowns.

Training project 1 (T1) will make sure people in the SCI community, especially those who are underserved, have access to the information produced from these 3 research projects. We will develop fact sheets, webcasts, videos, podcasts, and other resources for consumers. This material will also be available in Spanish!

Training project 2 (T2) will make sure doctors and other health professionals have access to new information so that they can best help their patients with SCI.

Training project 3 (T3) will be a “state-of-the-science” conference to present all our findings. This conference will be held in 2013 here in Washington, DC. It will include presentations by experts in SCI research, and be open to the public!

The overall goal of this Center is to lower the risk of secondary conditions in people with SCI. This will help people with SCI live healthier and more active lives. If you are interested in participating in our studies, or have questions, or just want to send us a note, please click on “contact” on the top of this page. Otherwise, please come back and visit our site often as we’re just getting started!

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