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A decade of dedication to exceptional patient care


(L to R)  ICORD director Dr. Wolfran Tetzlaff, Stewart and Marilyn Blusson, VGH orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Brian Kwon, Rick Hansen (front), ICORD founding director Dr. John Steeves, RHI engagement lead John Chernesky (front), Gina Steeves

The Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (BSCC) is the province's “go-to" place for spine-related clinical care and research supporting thousands of patients over the last decade. 

Home to the VCH Brenda and David McLean Integrated Spine Clinic, BC Centre for Sexual Medicine, Vancouver Spine Surgery Institute, ICORD (International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries) and the Rick Hansen Institute, the centre has served as the site of world-leading research, innovation, and patient care. 

“It's truly a unique place," says VCH orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Brian Kwon, offering everything from medical and surgical assessment and follow-up to pain management and sexual health support under one roof. Colocating these services has fostered collaboration between VCH and its partners, which has led to direct benefits for patient care.

Intersection of clinical practice and research

“The BSCC has created a unique nexus between individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), those clinicians who care for them and those scientists who pursue discoveries to make patients' live better," says Dr. Marcel Dvorak, VGH spinal surgeon and associate senior medical director of Vancouver Acute Services.

“We have clinicians, researchers from many disciplines including orthopedic engineering and pathology, and many others working together to design solutions for patients living with SCI and other spine-related conditions," says Allan Aludino, program manager, Vancouver Spine Research Program.

Ground-breaking research

Through multidisciplinary collaboration, the team at BSCC has spent a decade on the forefront of health care innovation spearheading many world-leading research initiatives, including:
  • Developing the national Rick Hansen SCI Registry to track the experiences and outcomes of people with traumatic forms of SCI during their journey through pre-hospital, acute care, rehabilitation and community reintegration
  • Creating the International Spinal Cord Injury Biobank, the world's first formal spinal cord tissue bank in SCI
  • Pioneering research on the effects of SCI on men's and women's fertility

Fostering international collaboration

As one of the world's only purpose-built facilities uniting SCI and spine-related specialists from a cross-section of disciplines, BSCC research has international appeal.

“Our surgeons are world renown," says Allan. “Often, they're leading the research in the field, so there's a lot of interest nationally and internationally in collaboration. We partner with other organizations to advance our understanding and improve patient care."

Research advances patient care

“Synergies between clinicians and scientists improve patient care," says Dr. Stacy Elliott, medical manager, BC Centre for Sexual Medicine and consultant to the Sexual Health Rehab Service. “Hallway consults with colleagues and sharing findings with others in related fields make for better medicine."

“How we care for patients [also] directly informs our research," says Dr. Kwon. These learnings then come full circle as other patients benefit from that expanded knowledge.

“I have learned everything from my patients," comments Dr. Elliott. “There's no textbook on sexual dysfunction and disability; patients teach you that. They help us help others and I'm very indebted to them."

Video: Clinicians, researchers and patients share their thoughts on the unique role of the BSCC. (Video care of the Rick Hansen Foundation)

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