September 27, 2016

Jan Schwab_BRT Lab_sizedCOLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has been awarded a five-year, $2.2-million grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to build the Ohio Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System.

The federally funded Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems program consists of 14 institutions with leading clinicians and researchers in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. The program supports the worlds’ largest longitudinal database that follows people from injury for the rest of their life. Ohio State’s project, led by neurologist Dr. Jan Schwab, focuses on immune deficiency after spinal cord injury, a complication that leads to poor neurological recovery and sometimes death. Schwab’s research takes advantage of the care provided in the state-of-the-art, specialized spinal cord injury unit opening Friday in Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s new Brain and Spine Hospital. 

“We hope to identify those patients at risk for long-term complications due to their reduced ability to fight infection,” said Schwab, who is the principal investigator and a member of Ohio State’s Neurological Institute. “With this grant, we’ll integrate the newly formed Spinal Cord Injury Unit to bridge acute surgical and chronic rehabilitative spinal cord injury care so that we can better understand why some patients are more susceptible to infections such as pneumonia. Identifying patients at risk will allow us to treat these patients earlier and more aggressively so that they will have improved outcomes.”

Ohio State joins an exclusive Spinal Cord Injury network of 13 other centers nationwide that support innovative approaches and research in the delivery, demonstration and evaluation of medical, rehabilitation, vocational and other services to meet the needs of individuals with spinal cord injury. These grants are awarded to institutions that are national leaders in medical research and patient care and provide the highest level of comprehensive specialty services, from the point of injury through rehabilitation and re-entry into full community life. 

Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center hosts one of only seven Level 1 Trauma Centers nationwide linked with a spinal cord injury Rehabilitative Program and a governmental-funded Spinal Cord Injury Model System. This continuity of advanced programs enables comprehensive spinal cord injury care under the same roof from the day of injury through rehabilitation. 

“Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center frequently treats spinal cord injury patients who have been transferred from other facilities around the state” said Dr. David Evans, medical director of Ohio State’s Trauma Center. “Our team has extensive depth and expertise in the entire spectrum of care for patients with spinal cord injuries, from complex surgeries to clinical research trials to innovative rehabilitation protocols.”

Each of the appointed Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Centers contributes to the Spinal Cord Injury  Model Systems National Database, which allows big-data analysis of long-term outcomes. Centers also participate in independent and collaborative research, and provide information and resources to individuals with spinal cord injury, their family and caregivers, health care professionals and the general public. Funding also comprises support of a community-based project addressing every day needs of patients with spinal cord injury in Central Ohio, including access to an online calendar of spinal cord injury-related events and activities. 

Rehabilitation psychologist Jennifer Bogner is the co-principal investigator and John Corrigan, professor in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, is a co-investigator. Kristen Jackson, a clinical assistant professor in the division of rehabilitation psychology in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, will lead a community based group of advisers. Neurosurgeon Dr. Francis Farhadi and Dr. Jerry W. Mysiw, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation will complement the Spinal Cord Model System Consortium formed at Ohio State. 

“With the designation as Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems and as a long-standing Traumatic Brain Injury Model System, Ohio State is tremendously equipped to face the challenges of neurotrauma,” Schwab said. “The spinal cord injury program will allow Ohio State to enhance its clinical research and complement its expertise in clinical care.”

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Media contact: Eileen Scahill, Wexner Medical Center Media Relations, 614-293-3737 or