Posted on November 17, 2017

Participants with traumatic spinal cord injury being recruited for new research study

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has been awarded a three-year, $400,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to measure how physical activity impacts the lives of people with spinal cord injury.

Researchers will focus on whether a positive impact can be made on people’s participation in physical activity over a year-long period, said Mary Free Bed’s Roberta Virva, project manager for the study. Progress will be measured by physical activity and quality of life surveys.

Researchers hope to recruit 80 people for the study. Participant requirements include:

  • Between 18-65 years old
  • History of traumatic spinal cord injury sustained at least three months prior
  • Not currently participating in organized exercise programs or sports teams

Those who participate in the study will:

  • Take part in a two-month exercise program specifically designed for people with spinal cord injury
  • Receive a free, two-month membership to the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids
  • Meet like-minded peers with spinal cord injury
  • Receive information on the Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports program
  • Receive a $20 stipend for completing surveys and wearing a wrist-worn activity monitor

Dr. John F. Butzer of Mary Free Bed’s John F. Butzer Center for Research & Innovation is the principal investigator for the study. Michelle Meade and Mark Peterson from the University of Michigan are co-investigators. The study is being conducted at the Mary Free Bed YMCA.

The Mary Free Bed study team additionally includes Jackie Wondolowski, spinal cord injury program development specialist; Abby Moore, research assistant; Jenny Baweja, research recreation therapist; and Brian Bradley, research peer mentor.

Click here to learn more about the John F. Butzer Center for Research & Innovation. Click here and here to learn more about recruitment for the study.

For more information, contact Roberta Virva at 616.840.8926 or