A Message from the President
June 16th, 2019
Let us rise up together to the challenge posed by spinal injuries. In a previous issue we discussed that there is so much to be achieved to bridge the gap between what “is possible” or “needed” for spinal injury management and that “actually available”. As the only international society working in the field of spinal injuries, it becomes our mandate as well as moral responsibility to do everything possible within our resources to improve the plight of persons with spinal injuries. Have we lived up to the challenge? As we brainstorm on various issues which need to be brought out in the strategic plan, it is time to introspect on the achievements of our society since its inception and on what can still be done to bridge the gap. Let’s deliberate, for example, the field of Research. Optimal management of spinal injuries poses a big challenge. Unfortunately, our understanding of the problem and its solutions is inadequate to meet the challenge. For example, we still don’t understand well the barriers to spinal cord regeneration and the strategies to effectively overcome them.
Is ISCoS doing enough to facilitate tapping of this huge potential of finding innovative solutions for the benefit of persons with SCI? How could ISCoS inculcate the desire for research and innovation amongst its members? How could ISCoS emphasis appropriately the importance of including consumers in the whole research cycle, including setting the research priorities. We need to deliberate on these and elaborate them in our strategic plan. Some strategies for promoting research which could be explored are as under:
Education related to research methodology:
Developing a booklet or learning material on research methodology along with a digital elearning module.
Developing online webinars or offline courses on research methodology for better global accessibility.
Development of an Open Online Course to learn research methodology. The course could be made interesting and interactive with activity-based learning exercises.
Organising research methodology workshops (for beginners, intermediate and advanced researchers) at each ISCoS event.
Development/establishment of a program for education and excellence in research. It could provide resources, references and learning opportunities to the interested individuals. A committee of experts for taking sessions could be foreseen in it.
Research collaboration and promotion:
Promoting engagement of clinicians, engineers, researchers and designers together in trans-disciplinary research.
Establishment/strengthening of collaborations and partnerships with organizations globally for SCI research.
Strengthening and consolidating ISCoS Database Project (IDaP) through increasing the participation of more centres, adding clinical variables, incentivizing data uploading through various means like CME or ISCoS royalty points which may be reimbursed in the form of registration fee for ISCoS events or research grants.
Developing a platform for researchers to interact and collaborate with each other.
Developing another platform where the consumers could share needs with researchers.
Promoting multicentric research by identifying suitable research questions, identifying centres carrying out research in these areas, facilitating networking amongst suitable centres and exploring funding for such research projects.
Promote publishing manuscripts irrespective of their findings (significant or non-significant).
Encouraging researchers from low- and middle-income countries for collaborating and publishing their research findings.
Research funding, grants and awards:
Instituting annual best researcher awards in designated categories.
Providing some funding for research projects or facilitating funding through other organisations. Various means of achieving better outcomes of the research grant awards could be foreseen including release of funds in a phased manner subject to report submission at periodic intervals and compulsory presentations of all the projects in ISCoS ASM.
Developing a platform for researchers to disseminate key findings of their research.
ISCoS Journals to consider giving priority to publications from IDaP.
In this era of rapid technological advancements where researchers are exploring various innovation strategies which hold a great potential in revolutionizing SCI management like epidural stimulation, brain machine interface, artificial muscle, artificial intelligence and decision support systems, ISCoS should probably give enough emphasis on promoting research in the field of SCI. If that’s also the voice of the members, probably the time has come for ISCoS to consider a separate and empowered Research Committee (at present it is a subcommittee within the Scientific Committee) and to find funding for various research initiatives.
I would encourage members to think of various other strategies to encourage research which should be covered in the ISCoS Strategic Plan 2020-2025. Members should also deliberate on prioritising of these strategies for optimal utilization of available resources.
So keep brainstorming! Let us rise up together to the challenge posed by spinal injuries.
H S Chhabra