Michigan Spinal Cord Injury System (MSCIS)

SCI Access Newsletter

The current issue of SCI Access Winter/Spring 2019 is now available.  Read for updates on exciting new studies and how you can participate.  We will now have a larger presence on our website where we will revisit some of the prior SCI Access highlights and give you updates on what's happening now, plus sneak peaks into new and interesting things happening around the world.   

Exercise and Fitness After Spinal Cord Injury

This 19-minute video features individuals with SCI who share their fitness routines and explain how exercise has improved their quality of life. The video also includes expert input from health care professionals at the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury, who provide clinical insights on the importance of fitness and physical health after SCI.

View the video here.

An Audio Described version of this video is available here.   

Happy Holidays, A letter from Dr. Tate

And suddenly, it’s December again. A festive month in which many of us have more time for ourselves, family and friends. It’s as if the last days of the year make us more aware of the value of time, freedom and togetherness.

2018 was a productive year with so many active research projects bringing new information to benefit spinal cord injury (SCI) care. You will read about some of these project updates in an upcoming issue of our newsletter. Watch for it in February. As we move forward, we are also streamlining what we do to keep you informed about the latest developments and information related to SCI research. Starting in 2019 we plan to have most of our newsletters uploaded to this MSCIS website (https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/pmr/research/research-areas/spinal-cord-injury-research) so that you can access them from where you are and whenever you wish. We hope this will encourage you to tap into the useful information they continue to provide. We also hope to inspire more communication with you about what you can contribute to future short SCI online reports. Just recently, I had a chance to review some of our older newsletters and they contain some excellent articles with our SCI peers. We plan to follow up on some of these and provide you with an update of what our authors have done since we last published their stories. In 2019, we additionally plan to create and mail an end of the year printed version of our new SCI Access Magazine, which will highlight many of the personal interest stories and research updates for the year. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact our office. This holiday season is certainly the perfect time to say thank you to our donors and those who have continued to support our research efforts throughout the years. We are especially thankful for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles for their continued support of our research activities, our University Medical School and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. We are also thankful for the support and collaboration of many of our colleagues including Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Craig Hospital in Colorado, the Craig Neilsen Foundation in California, the National Institute of Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research and the US Department of Defense for their continued support of our work. For those of you who continue to participate in our research a big thanks for all your efforts too. We could not have done it without you.  Wherever you are, we wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!       




Front row/left to right: Diane Nicholls, Denise Tate, Marty Forchheimer. Back row/left to right: Haley Scott, Suzanne Walsh, Chris Graves, Ed Rohn, Connie Pines, Deb Demski




Ropes Challenge
Deb Demski and Suzanne Walsh, study coordinators  (left to right/standing) and Carrie Pilarski, Sunny Roller, James Murtha, and Tom Hoatlin, facilitators (left to right/seated) practice an activity using tangled ropes to challenge each person's ingenuity. This group problem-solving exercise is part of the Reinventing Yourself After SCI study's workshop.  The purpose of this five-year study is to increase SCI-specific and general self-efficacy beliefs, enhance emotional well-being, improve participation in society for people with SCI living in the community, and increase resilience.  Study participants are still being recruited! To learn about how to join the study, contact Deb Demski, Study Coordinator, at (734) 763-0623.




University of Michigan Block M Logo
The University of Michigan, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Ann Arbor and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids engage in research collaborations to improve the lives of persons with spinal cord injury. See press releases from both organizations below. U of M Health and Mary Free Bed




Dr. Fred Maynard and Dr. Denise Tate
Dr. Fred Maynard, past Director of the Michigan SCI Model Systems visited with Dr. Tate on October 4, 2018. Dr. Maynard is currently retired and lives in northern Michigan. He was responsible for a number of publications and studies on SCI.  


 Connecting With Our SCI Participants


University of Michigan Block M Logo

September was an exciting month at the Michigan Spinal Cord Injury System (MSCIS)! The month marked another milestone for the follow-up interview project, of which many participants generously took time to participate in. With their help, we met our goal of completing 130 interviews in the last year! The main purpose of these interviews is to understand how our participants are doing after discharge from the hospital. The project helps us learn how effective current rehabilitation treatments are and how people adjust to life after SCI. Your continued participation is invaluable! Thank you to all those who have dedicated time to this project in the past, and continue to do so every year. We look forward to speaking with you for the next follow-up interview, let's keep in touch! 


  Presenting Our Research Findings at ISCoS



Dr. Denise Tate, Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan, presented her work at the 57th Annual Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS). The meeting which took place in September of 2018 was held in Sydney, Australia, and convened over 900 professionals from various countries in the world.


  Decision Making After Loss of Bladder and Bowel Function


Dr. Tate presented on her research currently being funded by the US Department of Defense on decision making related to neurogenic bowel and bladder; her work on the validation of the quality of life dataset, funded by the Craig H Neilsen Foundation, and Quality of Life and Spirituality funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research during the late 90’s.  This topic, spiritual well-being after SCI, continues to receive considerable attention from professionals and persons with SCI themselves.  The project compares data from persons with SCI to other groups such as those with amputations, polio, and cancer.


  Spiritual Well-Being After SCI


A workshop on spirituality was held in conjunction with colleagues from Australia and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Drs. Heinemann, San Agustin, and Tate visit together at the exhibits at ISCoS.  




Allen Heinemann from Chicago, Denise Tate from Michigan, Kate Jones and Philip Siddall from Australia presented the workshop on spirituality and rehabilitation. They discussed factors associated with spiritual well-being and interventions.  The team at Michigan has written several papers on these topics.


  Presentations at PVA, August 2018


Ed Rohn

Two of our team members, Edward Rohn, PhD (pictured here) and Marty Forchheimer presented at this year’s Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) conference held in Dallas, TX in late August.  Mr. Forchheimer presented on "Relationships of Spiritual Well-Being to Depression and Quality of Life in People with SCI" and "Quality of Caregiving Among People with SCI and it's Impact."  Dr. Rohn's talk was entitled "Giving Voice to Rehabilitation Patients Through Qualitative Research: Lessons to Inform Clinical Practice." 


  Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Annual Meeting


Neilsen Foundation Logo
Researchers from Craig Hospital, University of Michigan, the Netherlands and Canada  join forces exhibiting their recent work funded by the Craig H Neilsen Foundation at the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals annual meeting (Click here for the poster from the presentation). This work shows the many challenges faced by researchers when asking specific questions about quality of life and neurological classification to SCI participants. When this research is done across countries, these challenges are even more difficult by the fact that different languages express concepts such as quality of life differently. And not everyone remembers their SCI neurological classification, so here are some questions to be asked to help us identify neurological status. We would like to hear your thoughts on these matters too. Please send us your comments!


   Researchpalooza: Engaging Researchers at  U of M on SCI Research




Researchpalooza 2018, MSCIS Team
Members of the Michigan Spinal Cord Injury System presented work and handed out information during Researchpalooza 2018.  From L to R:  Teresa McCartney, Deb Demski, Dr. Denise Tate, Connie Pines, and Suzanne Walsh.




Check out the current issue of SCI ACCESS from the Michigan Spinal Cord Injury System!


Meet Lucy Robinson. Lucy is a woman who lives a life filled with vitality and adventure. She currently resides in a fully renovated English cottage built in the late 1800s in Oxford, England. Lucy is a self-described advocate and educator for people with spinal cord injury (SCI), not only in the United Kingdom, but in remote places far beyond England’s borders. Recently, Lucy told me her story... 

To read more about Lucy, all of our current SCI research studies, and much more, click on this link:  SCI Access v24.pdf

 Look for the next printed version coming in late fall.