EPIC-SCI: a randomized controlled trial

Exercise guidelines Promotion and Implementation in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury (EPIC-SCI): A Randomized Controlled Trial

ICORD researcher Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis is interested in evaluating the effects of following the International SCI Exercise Guidelines over the course of a 6-month period. Participants who volunteer for this study will be randomly allocated to one of two groups. One of the groups will follow an exercise program for 6 months. The other group (i.e. control group) will be asked not to change their daily lifestyle for 6 months. After this, the control group will have the opportunity to enjoy the 6-month exercise program. A personal trainer and the participant will set up the exercise program together. The exercise program consists of 2-3 hours of exercise per week, either at home or in a local fitness facility.

The research project will take place in both Okanagan and Vancouver, and is currently recruiting at the UBC Vancouver site only. The study involves three visits to the testing site as well as questionnaires that will be filled out online or over the phone, including a questionnaire regarding pain symptoms. During each visit participants will be asked to:

  • complete fitness tests
  • participate in a brief test to see how the body responds to pressure and cold stimuli applied to the arm
  • give blood samples

Why should you participate in this study?

Through participation in the study you will learn what your peak oxygen uptake is, in addition to your current levels of muscular strength for major muscle functioning groups. Although there are no other guaranteed benefits of participation, increasing physical activity levels has known physical and psychological benefits for persons with SCI. Therefore, it is possible that by following this study, you may develop fitness and cardiometabolic health benefits associated with exercise participation, which may lead to sustained exercise adherence.

You may be eligible to participate in this study if you:

  • are over the age of 18
  • have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • are able to read, speak, and understand English
  • have access to a phone
  • have been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury more than one year ago
  • have an injury level at C3 or below
  • experience chronic pain
  • participate in less than 40 min/week of structured, moderate intensity, aerobic exercise AND less than 2 bouts/week of strength training
  • have no medical contra-indications to performing a maximal exercise test

You may not be eligible to participate in this study if you:

  • have chronic pain with exclusively non-musculoskeletal or non-neurological origins
  • cannot perform upper-body exercise due to limited diaphragmatic control and/or reduced arm functioning
  • live beyond driving distance of UBC Okanagan or the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver
  • cannot read, write, or orally communicate in English
  • have been previously told you have had a cognitive or memory impairment
  • are pregnant
  • are an in-patient at a hospital at the time of enrolment
  • have experienced any ‘flu-like’ symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 and/or have been in contact with a clinically confirmed case of COVID-19 within the past 14 days
  • have travelled internationally within the past 14 days.

Time Commitment

The three testing visits are completed at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. Each of the 3 testing visits requires approximately 3 hours, including the in-person visit and the questionnaire. The exercise program requires 2-3 hours of exercise per week. When the exercise program support finishes after 6 months, we will contact you over the phone at two occasions (9 and 12 months after the start of the study) to see if there are any changes in your pain and physical activity levels.

Compensation for participation

You will be compensated a flat rate for travel to the testing site in order to complete each testing visit.

Where will the study take place?

ICORD / Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, Vancouver

For more information information or to sign up to participate, please contact Bobo Tong by email or call 778-581-6487.