Craig H. Neilsen Foundation funds spinal cord injury project with Anne Bryden and team

A team of researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences recently received a two-year, $200,000 pilot grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for the project “Psychosocial Impacts of Navigating Care Transitions on Caregivers of People with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).” 

Anne Bryden, principal investigator and recent PhD graduate of the Department of Sociology and director of clinical trials and research at the CWRU’s Institute for Functional Restoration, will combine her doctoral research with a project studying experiences of recovery and reintegration of people who experience SCI headed by Kim Anderson, professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and associate director of the Institute for Functional Restoration. Sue Hinze, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, and Brian Gran, professor in the Department of Sociology, are also a part of the team. 

In many cases, SCI is sudden and leaves people with a life-altering disability that requires a lot of assistance to participate fully in life. While people with SCI focus on regaining their health, caregivers are responsible for navigating the healthcare system in an effort to make their loved one’s life meaningful. Bryden revealed that there are many pitfalls between early injury when a patient is treated and stabilized in the hospital and living successfully with a disability. 

With a combination of Bryden’s and Anderson’s previous work and expertise, this project will work to eliminate these pitfalls by creating an online resource for SCI caregivers. This interactive platform will serve as a “home base” for caregivers and will provide easily accessible information to help them navigate the healthcare system and make steps towards a better life for themselves and their loved one.  

While this team works to alleviate the challenges present in the lives of those with SCI and their caregivers, they also recognize that the lack of resources for people with disabilities is a human rights issue.

“Short of changing how the system works, we need to articulate human rights a little more strongly in asking for the things that people with SCI injury need to participate in our communities,” Bryden said.

This project will begin in April and while research is underway, updates on progress will be provided.