Lisa Harvey, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Early and intensive motor training to enhance neurological recovery and function

Funded in: 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025


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Problem: Optimal type or dosage of motor training
Target: Neurological recovery and function
Goal: Determine the effectiveness of early and intensive motor training

The most promising and readily implementable intervention that could promote neurological recovery and make a lasting difference to the lives of people with spinal cord injury is early and intensive motor training directed at recovery below the level of the injury. This intervention exploits the early plasticity of the spinal cord. The aim of “The Early & Intensive Motor Training Trial” is to determine the effectiveness of early and intensive motor training on neurological recovery and function in people with recent spinal cord injury.

The researchers are conducting an international multi-centered controlled trial. They will compare ten weeks of early and intensive motor training with usual care for people with recent spinal cord injury. The primary endpoint is motor recovery at ten weeks. Secondary endpoints are other measures of neurological status, functional changes, time to discharge, ability to walk, psychological status, and participants’ impressions of therapeutic benefit at ten weeks and six months.

A cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analysis is being conducted from a healthcare provider’s perspective. In addition, a detailed process evaluation is being run alongside the main trial to ensure the study findings can be readily translated into clinical practice around the world.

The Early & Intensive Motor Training Trial has the potential to make an immediate and life-long difference to people with spinal cord injury, and to change the way rehabilitation is provided around the world.