- INSPIRE is a UK national medical research charity, the object of which is to promote research into and the development of electronic, mechanical and medical aids to assist the mobility and enablement of those suffering from spinal cord paralysis and its associated effects and to communicate the useful results of such research. It is also a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and has partnership status with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
- Our organisation includes both a Scientific Committee which includes SCI as well as specialist clinicians, and a User Committee whose membership is entirely comprised of SCI. This research strategy has evolved as a result of their ongoing work.
- INSPIRE's research priorities are based upon improving the quality of life of the SCI. It should be noted that, in general, spinal cord injury is not a degenerative condition and once the SCI have adjusted to their new situation, the individuals get on with their lives. They are not ill, but they may need help. The end result of our research should therefore offer or lead to a significant improvement to the existing quality of their lives. If it does not the researcher should be prepared to explain to both the Review panels and the Board of Trustees why INSPIRE should provide funding support.
- INSPIRE's members recently agreed the following list of priorities. As with this strategic document they are subject to change.
- Bladder function
- Bowel function
- Pain management
- Pressure sores
- Enablement for Tetraplegics
- Mobility for paraplegics
- Sexual function
TYPES OF RESEARCH
- Because one of the main effects of a spinal cord injury is a breakdown in the body’s nerve communication system, there has been major research into the provision of an alternative by the use of electrical stimulation. However, as the following examples show, INSPIRE has also provided grants towards:
- A virtual reality project designed to help the SCI managed their chronic phantom pain.
- A wheelchair cushion and backrest project designed to improve pushing efficiency and even-out seating pressures.
- The use of Botulin toxin to reduce the occurrence of spasticity in upper limb tetraplegia.
- INSPIRE will not close its mind to other types of research providing the end result fits in with INSPIRE's objective and ultimately benefits the SCI.
- Educational grants are no longer given unless the student's supervisor assures both the User and Scientific Committees that the work involved will not only benefit the student but also the SCI. In addition, the student should continue to work with the SCI for at least a further five years. Failure to do this could necessitate the forfeiture of the grant.
FUNDING OF APPLICATIONS
- INSPIRE is not a large charity in monetary terms and whilst the Trustees might wish to be the sole funder, in many cases this is simply not possible. Pump priming of the early stages is often the best we can offer. Applicants are therefore urged, when working out their costings, to consider submitting their proposals to another funder for the balance of the costs. It would be helpful to inform the Trustees if this were the case as it may make an award more likely. Based on experience, INSPIRE has successfully funded pilot studies and the evidence gained has helped the respective Applicants to gain much larger awards from other grant making bodies.
- Costings should therefore cover essential rather than desirable costs. INSPIRE will not make an award for institute running costs.
REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS
- All applications seeking an INSPIRE grant are subject to review by first the User Committee and then the Scientific Committee. It would be unusual for a project rejected by the Users to go on to the Scientific Committee but, in any event, the final decision rests with the Board of Trustees.
- The Committees generally meet in July and December each year and the Board of Trustees soon after.
- The Executive Director undertakes to notify all applicants of the progress of their proposal.