Summary of the Committee’s Recommendations

The following is a summary of the committee’s recommendations. Complete text of each recommendation can be found in the corresponding chapters.

Focus on Increasing Knowledge of Basic Biology and Therapeutic Approaches

Increase Efforts to Develop Therapeutic Interventions (Recommendation 5.1) Specifically, research is needed to:

  • improve understanding of the basic mechanisms and identify suitable targets to promote neuroprotection, foster axonal growth, enhance axonal guidance, regulate the maintenance of appropriate synaptic connections, and reestablish functional neuronal and glial circuitry; and

  • enhance understanding of proper postinjury care and rehabilitation, such as retraining, relearning, and the use of neuroprostheses, to create the groundwork required to maintain and enhance the maximal potential for full recovery.

Develop a Strategic Plan for Combination Therapeutic Approaches (Recommendation 5.2)

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke should develop a strategic plan to screen and assess the potential for compounds and therapies to be used in combination to treat acute and chronic spinal cord injuries.

Bolster and Coordinate Research on Neuronal Injury and Repair (Recommendation 7.1)

The National Institutes of Health should increase the funding for mechanisms that encourage research coordination in neuronal injury and repair and should actively develop and support cross-institute and cross-disciplinary working groups, as outlined in the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research.

Improve and Standardize Research Tools and Assessment Techniques (Recommendation 3.2)

Preclinical research tools and animal models should be developed and refined to examine spinal cord injury progression and repair and assess the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. These preclinical tools and assessment protocols should be standardized for each type and each stage of spinal cord injury.

Increase Training Efforts on Standardized Research Tools and Techniques (Recommendation 3.1)

Spinal cord injury researchers should receive training in the use of standardized animal models and evaluation techniques.

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