Minnesota Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) program designation fuels new research aimed at improving patient outcomes

Feb. 04, 2022

Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with three other Minnesota health care organizations, was designated in 2021 as a center of excellence for spinal cord injury (SCI) care and research as part of the Minnesota Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) program. This designation is awarded to systems specializing in spinal cord injury medical research and patient care by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, a division of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to Mayo Clinic, the organizations composing the Minnesota Regional SCIMS include Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis, Regions Hospital in St. Paul and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

According to the ACL, the SCIMS program was created in 1970 to facilitate collaboration between SCI clinicians and researchers across the U.S. to support innovative research and enhance the delivery of care for individuals with SCI.

"The overall goal of the Minnesota Regional SCIMS is to provide a multidisciplinary continuum of care for people with SCI, from prevention through community reintegration, and to expand research efforts used to improve services and outcomes for these individuals," explains Ronald K. Reeves, M.D., a physiatrist and SCI researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who is serving as the Minnesota Regional SCIMS director of clinical care. In addition to Dr. Reeves, Carmen M. Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., a physiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and Kristin D. Zhao, Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic's Assistive and Restorative Technology Laboratory, are serving as co-investigators within the Minnesota Regional SCIMS.

Drs. Reeve, Terzic and Zhao will each be involved in innovative research projects studying different aspects of SCI care, including the following:

  • Evaluating the utility of spasticity and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in predicting neurological and functional recovery after SCI
  • Aging well with disability: successful aging among individuals with SCI
  • An SCI stakeholder-vetted education module to mitigate early cardioendocrine health risks occurring after spinal cord injuries
  • Feasibility, reliability and long-term prognostic capability of the international standards to document autonomic function after SCI during acute inpatient rehabilitation

The research and other services funded by the Minnesota Regional SCIMS program grant will benefit patients from communities throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Mayo Clinic and Minnesota Regional SCIMS collaborators will work together to advance national SCIMS initiatives by:

  • Collecting high-quality, representative, longitudinal data that will increase the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the National Spinal Cord Injury database
  • Implementing an SCI model system founded on diversity, equity and inclusion ideals while ensuring that the input of people with SCI is used to shape system activities
  • Contributing to improving long-term SCI outcomes and improved services through a collaborative spinal cord injury research portfolio that engages local team members as well as national model system collaborators

Mayo Clinic provides a continuum of SCI care that includes emergency medical services, acute care and post-acute care, with both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services. Post-acute care offerings include health and wellness programs, adaptive fitness and activity-based therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and state-of-the-art technology to support independent living.

For more information

The Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems. Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center.

Directory of Model Systems — Spinal Cord Injury. Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center.

Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems grant information. Administration for Community Living.

Refer a patient to Mayo Clinic.