Methodological Considerations Which Could Improve Spinal Cord Injury Research

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Advances in spinal cord injury-based research in the last 50 years have resulted in significant improvements to therapy options. However, the efficacy of such research could be further enhanced if threats to internal and external validity were addressed. To provide perspective, a sample topic was identified: the effects of acute and chronic exercise on clinical and sub-clinical markers of cardiovascular health. The intention was not a systematic review, nor a critique of exercise-based research, but rather a means to generate further discussion. Thirty-one articles were identified, and four common issues were found relating to: (1) sampling; (2) study design; (3) control group; and (4) clinical inference. These concerns were largely attributed to insufficient resources, and challenges associated with recruiting individuals with spinal cord injury. Overcoming these challenges will be difficult, but some opportunities include: (1) implementing multi-center trials; (2) sampling from subject groups appropriate to the research question; (3) including an appropriate control group; and (4) clearly defining clinical inference. These opportunities are not always feasible, and some easier to implement than others. However, addressing these concerns may assist in progressing spinal cord injury-based research, thereby helping to ensure steady advancement of therapy options for persons with spinal cord injury.

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Journal of Science in Sport and Exercise

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