The Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System (MRSCICS) at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a leading center for innovative, integrated, interdisciplinary research and care for persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and is one of the original five NIDILRR-designated Model System Spinal Cord Injury Centers (in partnership with Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital).
It manages several projects, both unique to MRSCICS and in collaboration with other Model System Spinal Cord Injury Centers.
MRSCICS also contributes data to the National Spinal Cord Injury Database, established in 1973 as a repository of data collected through the collaborative efforts of federally funded SCI Model System Centers.
There are 18 SCI Model System Centers currently contributing data to the Database, with a total of 31 Centers contributing data since the Database’s inception. Through the June of 2022, there were more than 52,000 persons who have sustained traumatic SCI registered in the National SCIMS Database and more than 30,000 persons had follow-up data. This makes it the world's largest and longest active SCI research database and the world’s most extensive source of available information about the characteristics and life course of individuals with SCI. There are individuals enrolled into the National SCIMS Database who have now been followed for 45 years after injury.
MRSCICS has enrolled nearly 4,000 participants into the Database since it began in 1973, and enrolls an average of 90 new individuals annually. Participation rates for follow ups are high, with approximately 500 new follow-up records entered since the current grant period started in 2021. To keep rates high in follow-up surveys, keeping in touch with participants is critical. One way Shirley Ryan AbilityLab does this is with the MRSCICS Matters newsletter, launched in 2016 with approximately 1,000 subscribers who are enrollees in the National Database. It provides information on living with SCI, research updates and opportunities for people with spinal cord injury to become involved in research.
Co-Principal investigators on MRSCICS are Allen Heinemann, PhD, Director, Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and David Chen, MD, Section Chief of Spinal Cord Injury and George M. Eisenberg Chair at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
The Model Systems program, sponsored by NIDILRR, provides assistance through federal funding to establish innovative projects for the delivery, demonstration and evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational and other rehabilitation services to meet the needs of individuals with SCI. NIDRR awards SCI Model System grants to institutions that are national leaders in medical research and patient care and provide the highest level of comprehensive specialty services.