Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Spinal Cord Injury: hype, unmet promises, and misery which does not need to be

Research to "fix" spinal cord injury in humans, has been insanely hyped, rare in reality, and very disappointing in its clinical applicability to human patients.


After a parade of rat models, mouse models, cat models, dog models, African green monkey models, pig models, guinea pig models, hamster models, rabbit models, gerbil models, etc. one wonders whether most researchers or funders will ever have any interest in benefitting human patients.


Rarely, one hears of somebody getting FDA approval for human research on the safety (not effectiveness) of an approach, and one never hears about the results. The test is typically on one patient in China.

Tags (Keywords associated with the idea)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

So, how about we put a moratorium on FDA approval of all research related to a cure for spinal cord injury when done by any persons or organizations who have not published every single one of their past experiments in the time required, and for any research which involves other species than humans.


Also, how many different ways of creating stem-like cells do we need? Let's stop creating stem-like cells and start applying the ones we have to human patients.


How about spending the animal model money instead on improving the quality of life for people living with disabilities. Let us start with actually enforcing the ADA on all new enough buildings.


When we make technology for doctors to use, we consult doctors. When we make technology for teachers to use, we consult teachers. When we make technology for disabled people to use… we consult insurance companies, and medical professionals who are not and have never been disabled. We fail to apply the most basic usability testing to the tools which disabled people must use. For example, has any wheelchair designer tried to propel a manual wheelchair uphill on wet grass? How about across a cobblestone street? or down a normally bumpy sidewalk? Now imagine that your butt has atrophied and you are sitting on your hip bones. How painful would that be? Now remember that pressure sores resulting from this bad design can be fatal, and then tell me why we do not take this more seriously.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

The misery which does not need to be is not a new idea: http://badcripple.blogspot.com/2015/01/obsession-with-walking.html


Let's get the price of tools for disabled people down to the point where most patients can really afford them, or where the insurance can actually cover them. Let's get exoskeletons price-competitive with wheelchairs, for example, instead of using them to make soldiers able to carry heavier packs in war.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Mary-Anne Wolf (inspired by the Bad Cripple blog of William Peace and by the Wheelchair Driver website forum)


-7 net votes
5 up votes
12 down votes
Idea No. 633