The University Record, February 12, 2001

Program seeks to help people with spinal cord injury maintain well-being

By Kara Gavin
Health System Public Relations

The Health System is launching a new program to help people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) improve their health and well-being with nutrition, exercise and lifestyle options.

The program’s participants also will help U-M researchers measure the effectiveness of different approaches for maintaining the well-being of people with spinal cord injury, information that could help improve the lives of others with similar conditions.

The Wellness with SCI Program is recruiting participants for its series of free medical clinics, questionnaires and follow-up consultations. It will run from spring to summer.

Those who qualify also may be assigned to a group whose participants will take part in six, four-hour classes over the next three months, addressing topics ranging from exercise and bladder/bowel function to nutrition and sexuality. Participants will receive free medical attention and information, free transportation and earn up to $225 for taking part.

More than 190,000 Americans live with paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury, and nearly 11,000 new injuries occur each year due to motor vehicle crashes, violence, falls and sports injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U-M has one of the nation’s 16 model spinal cord injury systems, sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The program, part of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, provides comprehensive medical and rehabilitative services, as well as research programs such as the new course.

“Life after a spinal cord injury can be dramatically different from life before. But that doesn’t mean the injury and its care must become the only things in the injured person’s life,” says Denise Tate, head of the program and lead investigator on the study. “This program aims to study the effect of a holistic approach to wellness for people with an SCI.”

Individuals ages 18–65 who have lived for two or more years with an SCI at the C-5 level or below may be eligible. For more information, call (734) 936-9474 or send e-mail to