(February 2021) The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is proud to announce that it has been awarded a Quality of Life Grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center, which will support efforts to address social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Quality of Life Grant Program supports nonprofit organizations that empower individuals living with paralysis. Since the Quality of Life Grants Program’s inception, more than 3,300 grants totaling over $32 million have been awarded. Funding for this new pilot program was made possible through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to serve the spinal cord injury community, who have been especially marginalized by COVID-19 and other factors. With physical distancing guidelines expected to continue for vulnerable populations through 2021, we will use this grant to expand our existing activities to more extensively enhance health and wellness for all our friends in the spinal cord injury community and the ones who care for their needs,” said Katie Gant, Ph.D., Director of Education and Outreach, The Miami Project and Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery.
The Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center has several grants under the Quality of Life Grant program awarding grants in different category areas, varying in different amounts. The COVID-19: Addressing Social Isolation Quality of Life grants program funds one-year grants of up to $50,000 to nonprofits programs that address social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of enhancing connectedness of people living with paralysis and their caregivers to their communities and preventing adverse health outcomes.
“Much of the research indicates that social isolation has had the number one negative impact on the lives of people living with disabilities relative to the COVID-19 pandemic and shows that social isolation and loneliness are linked to many physical and mental health problems,” said Mark Bogosian, Director, Quality of Life Grants Program, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “The Reeve Foundation believes that this is a pioneering program and was impressed – if not downright awestruck – by the innovative and creative responses that these organizations presented in their awarded projects. These projects will truly make a considerable difference in the lives of people living with paralysis, their families, and their caretakers.”
For years, The Miami Project Clinical Exercise Program has provided the SCI community with access to activities that preserve and enhance health, functional capacities, independence, and life satisfaction.
Although the risks of COVID-19 forced the program to close its doors physically, The Miami Project program staff quickly adapted to a fully remote model of engagement. More than a dozen live weekly sessions are currently being offered on the Zoom platform, at no charge, to people with spinal cord injury and their caregivers. Physical activity sessions have been customized for persons with limited mobility and include circuit training, aerobics, and mobility. Evidence-based information about COVID-19 is continually being updated, with specific guidance relevant to spinal cord injury. Importantly, The Miami Project has worked closely with the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group of South Florida, a chapter of the United Spinal Association, to identify areas of interest and concern. This new grant will enhance a holistic wellness program that encompasses exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and peer-support.