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INSPIRE Foundation Research Strategy


  1. It is important to remember that INSPIRE stands for Integrated Spinal Rehabilitation.  We are a UK national research charity and our Objective is:

‘To promote research into the development of practical systems for people with damage to the spinal cord by the use of the latest advances in electronic, mechanical and medical technology.’


  1. AMRC.  INSPIRE was re-elected for a period of 5 years as a member of the  Association of Medical Research Charities  (AMRC) in September 2021.  Membership thereafter will be dependent on passing the AMRC’s 5 Year Audit.   All AMRC members support the AMRC position statement on the use of animals in research
  2. Other Professional Bodies. INSPIRE has partnership status with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Many of its members are also signed up to the Multidisciplinary Association of SCI Professionals (MASCIP) and some are members of the British Association of SCI Specialists (BASCIS).
  3. Our organisation includes our National Scientific Committee which includes people with SCI as well as specialist clinicians and a User Committee whose membership consists entirely of people with SCI. This Research Strategy has evolved as a result of their collective ongoing work over many years.


  1. Previously known as Priorities, we opted to call them Areas of Interest in 2013.  This was to reflect the unique nature of spinal cord injury and the fact that priorities were subjective according to the differing opinions of individuals living with SCI, usually considerably different for those with tetraplegia and paraplegia.  Accordingly these areas for rehabilitation through functional restoration are not presented in any particular order of priority:
  • Bladder function
  • Bowel function
  • Enablement for Tetraplegics especially hand function
  • Mobility for Paraplegics
  • Pain management
  • Pressure sores
  • Sexual function
  1. These areas for research and development aim to significantly improve the quality of life for those with SCI particularly in the field of rehabilitation through functional assessment and restoration.  Those living with SCI are not ill per se, but during rehabilitation they will need time to come to terms with lifestyle adjustments due to the profound changes to their bodies.  Once they have accepted and adapted to their new situation, they are usually determined and able to get on and make a success of their lives.
  2. The end result of our research should therefore offer or lead to a significant quality of life improvement for the SCI.  If proposed research projects do not attempt to match this aim, they are unlikely to attract funding.


  1. Because one of the main effects of a spinal cord injury is a breakdown in the body’s nerve communication system, there has been major research into the provision of an alternative by the use of electrical stimulation.  INSPIRE has also provided grants towards:
  • A virtual reality project designed to help the SCI manage their chronic phantom pain.
  • A wheelchair cushion and backrest project designed to improve pushing efficiency and even-out seating pressures.
  • The use of Botulin toxin to reduce the occurrence of spasticity in upper limb tetraplegia.
  1. INSPIRE is open to other areas of research providing the end result fits in with INSPIRE’s aims and objective and ultimately benefits the SCI.  See further Background Reading.
  2. Educational grants are no longer given unless the student’s supervisor assures both the User and Scientific Committees that the work involved will not only benefit the student but also the SCI. In addition, the student should continue to work with the SCI for at least a further five years. Failure to do this could necessitate the forfeiture of the grant.


  1. Spinal Cord Injured Volunteers. SCI Volunteers are always needed and particularly welcome to help with our research projects. As part of any research programme, we need to build up evidence and statistics and in our case we need SCI tetraplegics and paraplegics who can give their time to help produce the data we need. If you are SCI and interested in learning more, click on Members - you could soon be working with likeminded individuals and making a real difference! We can usually cover expenses and travel costs to our research centres. To find out more please telephone the office at: 01722 425098 (direct)


  1. In monetary terms INSPIRE is a modest charity.  While we may aspire to be sole funders for research, this is not always possible.  Applicants are therefore urged, when scoping their budgets, to consider sharing the costs with another charity. It would be helpful to inform the Trustees if this were the case as it may make an award more likely.  Based on our experience, INSPIRE has successfully funded pilot studies and the evidence gained has helped the respective Applicants to gain much larger awards from other grant making bodies.
  2. Costings should therefore cover essential rather than desirable costs. INSPIRE will not make an award for institute running costs.


  1. All applications seeking an INSPIRE grant are subject to review by the User and Scientific Committees. It would be unusual for a project rejected by the Users to go on to the Scientific Committee but, in any event, the final decision will always with the Board of Trustees.
  2. The National Scientific Committee will meet each March and September and the Board of Trustees each May and November. See Review Process Graphic


16.  Once a project is authorised for funding by the Board of Trustees,  a contract will be drawn up between INSPIRE and the PI agreeing the terms and conditions of funding.  The Director will produce and sign on behalf of INSPIRE and will act as the point of contact (POC) through the life of the project.  The PI will be required to act as the project’s POC and will be expected sign on behalf of the project.  In so doing,  the PI will be expected to take responsibility for all aspects of the project and liaise with the various departments within the hosting establishment (eg Legal, Ethics, Contracts, Training, Finance).