Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Balgrist Spinal Cord Injury Center

ETH Z├╝rich

The Spinal Cord Injury Center at the Balgrist University Hospital is an internationally acknowledged rehabilitation center for patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). It comprises a 40 beds clinical unit and is linked excellently with its research facilities, located in the same building.

The focus of our research is the optimization and further development of existing and new interventions for patients with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Patients with SCI report that their priorities for recovery are bladder and bowel management and hand function in patients with high cervical lesions. Both also the recovery of walking function is highly appreciated. Indeed, besides other interests, these topics are covered by our research groups.

Our research is in general focussed on how the central nervous system reacts to the condition after SCI by investigating plastic changes in the sensory – motor and autonomic nervous system within the brain and spinal cord. Furthermore, we are interested how training interventions could exploit this plasticity to improve the functional outcome and independence of the patient. One focus of our lab is, in collaboration with the SMS Lab (ETHZ) and Hocoma AG, to develop and/or improve rehabilitation robotics for the upper and lower extremity and investigate their effect on the functional independence of our patients. We are also involved in clinical studies investigating safety of the anti-NOGO antibody, which should increase plasticity and regeneration of the damaged spinal cord (more information).

Improvement in training strategies can only be performed if adequate and sensitive outcome measures are available. Therefore, we develop and test the ability of neurological, neuro-physiological and functional outcome measures to detect small changes in our patients, which is required for clinical studies, but also the relevance of these changes for the functional status of the patient. Indeed, we are the leading center in an international collaboration evaluating outcome measures (www.emsci.org).

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