9. Trunk Function

  1. Functional activity of upper extremities for improved trunk function after SCI: TRUNK FUNCTION

Research Team: (PI) Dr Shin-Yi Chiou, Dr Paul Strutton, Mr JR Chowdhury, Prof Deborah Falla, Dr Eduardo M-Valdes

Locations:  University of Birmingham

Duration/Dates/Cost:  36 months/Sep 2020 – Sep 2023 50% funding by INSPIRE                Total project costs:  £98,745

Abstract.  The Key to Independence. A life enhancing priority for many of the 50,000 people in the UK living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) is the restoration of Trunk Function. This core strength is vital in delivering the ‘locomotor function’, the ability to sit up in order to confidently control a wheelchair and conduct everyday tasks including feeding, washing, dressing and transferring skills, all major goals during rehabilitation and in attaining independence, arguably the most sort after objective within the SCI community.

Standard interventions for trunk rehabilitation are time consuming and often less than optimal. They require considerable input from experienced therapists to educate patients (and their carers), in performing specific exercises. These requirements often limit the time in which the rehabilitation can be performed, impeding recovery. Our research is designed to significantly benefit the disabled by offering a novel and affordable approach for trunk rehabilitation.

Outcome.  This research will provide evidence that people with SCI can, after training, improve the ability to voluntarily control their trunk muscles which in turn will lead to improved function in activities of daily living leading to increased independence.  Our findings and data will be captured and will provide recommendations for the optimal training protocol to promote recovery of trunk function, which in turn will translate into clinical care. I believe arm cycling is a simple approach that could be effortlessly embedded into a clinical care setting. Given the fact that trunk control is essential for carrying out daily activities, we believe that this work will significantly benefit the spinally injured by offering a novel and affordable approach for trunk rehabilitation, a key ingredient to independence after spinal cord injury.