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Shepherd Center Awarded $2.5 Million to Continue Spinal Cord Injury Research

For the eighth consecutive time since 1982, Shepherd Center has been awarded one of the coveted federal grants that designate 14 U.S. hospitals as Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) programs. Configured in five-year cycles, the current $2.5 million award provides funding from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2016. 

“Project staff members are excited about this latest successful application and look forward to beginning another five years as active contributors to this respected national system,” said co-project director David F. Apple Jr., M.D.

Shepherd Center is the largest facility in the national system. Supported through the U.S. Department of Education and managed by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the SCIMS program is designed to treat people who sustain traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI) from the onset of the injury through a lifetime of follow-up care. Major components of the system include data collection, both acutely and longitudinally, and site-specific and collaborative research. 

Each applicant for a SCIMS grant must demonstrate influence on people with traumatic SCI throughout a continuum that starts when the injury occurs and ends when the individual dies. Applicants must also demonstrate proficiency in conducting research at its facility (site-specific) and with other members of the system (collaborative).

Shepherd Center is unique in the system because it contains all of the required elements on its own campus and under one roof. It also has the largest number of admissions annually and has achieved the best record for accurate, timely data collection, both during the initial hospitalization and at five-year intervals after the injury date. The national database that has been created by SCIMS grantees since the program began in 1972 is the largest in the world for the diagnosis of acute SCI. It is frequently cited in research for clinical care delivery improvements and for life-care planning. Since 1995, Shepherd Center has made the largest annual contribution of new-patient data entered into this repository. 

Dr. Apple and Lesley M. Hudson, M.A., are the founding project directors of the Southeastern Regional SCIMS at Shepherd Center and will continue in those roles during the 2011-2016 cycle. Keith Tansey, M.D., Ph.D., has recently joined them as research project director, and James S. Krause, Ph.D., is the research scientist. Patricia Duncan manages all elements of the data collection and analysis.


About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 743 inpatients, 277 day program patients and more than 7,161 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.