What Construction Contractors Can Teach Us About Cures

You’ve probably heard me talk about this idea of a road map to cure paralysis several times over the past year. Our exploration to define and build some mile markers on our journey to cure paralysis is ongoing and infuses much of what we do here at U2FP. This week I had an insight related to this road map notion, thanks to my friend Joe.

While visiting Joe a few days ago we stumbled into a conversation about construction. Joe worked as a project manager for one of the largest construction contractors on the planet, and before his SCI he crisscrossed the US managing large construction projects. We were pining over our shared dreams of building alternative co-housing models, when Joe dropped a new phrase on me: “Design/Build”.

He told me that “Design/Build” is his preferred process for large construction projects. It reduces the cost on the front end (land procurement, permits, architectural designs, etc.) and expedites it on the back end (the physical build), by doing them in concert. In a conventional building project the design must be completed before the first shovel strikes the dirt. But the Design/Build model “allows building of the foundation and structure of the building, while the architect continues designing the enclosure, interior and mechanical systems. This approach can significantly reduce the amount of time from project inception to project completion.” I trust you might see where this is going.

Do you think we in the SCI community spend time, attention and money on preparation of the front-end research design process while neglecting to connect its consequences on the translational build side? How do we better connect the two?

  • Research that seeks answers to what is relevant to the community.
  • Community driven clinical trial design.
  • Well thought out endpoints that will meet FDA requirements for treatment.
  • Community led efforts to affect those FDA requirements.
  • Capacity building for the necessary rehabilitation and recovery centers and protocols.
  • Capacity building for financing clinically relevant far-reaching clinical trials for the chronic injury.
  • Building the necessary collaborative models to complete our mission.

To name a few.

Our growing Cure Advocacy Network, along with our established work such as the Scientific Advisory Board and Working 2 Walk Symposium are all a part of this effort. We’ve also been leading a couple of new, under-the-radar initiatives these last few months which include two developing networks: an Activity Based Therapy/Exercise Network as well as a regular Web Conference with Epidural Stimulation scientists and clinicians. And we’re doing all of this along with our participation in the newly formed North American SCI Consortium.

For some of you this is not news. And to those of you who have been thinking and planning for some of these strategies, please share what you’re doing or thinking about so that we can do it in concert. For those who haven’t thought of our mission to cure paralysis in this way, join us in building this movement by design — become a monthly donor so we can continue to Fuel The Journey.

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