INSPIRE Projects

The International Spine Research (INSPIRE) Foundation™ is currently involved in a number of projects involving scientific investigation pertaining to the spine. Research activities beginning in 2000 brought together a multi-national team from the USA, Europe, and Australasia to collaborate on various spinal investigations of interest to the field of spinal disorders. Specifically, these projects include:

Biomechanical investigations of dynamic spinal stiffness assessments

To improve the objective means to biomechanically evaluate the spine, a dynamic spinal stiffness methodology was developed. Assessment of the normal spine was first conducted and validated, followed by investigations into the effects of degenerative disc disease, ligamentous injury, and muscular activation on dynamic spinal stiffness. Further work has evaluated the role of the muscles in spinal stability within this realm. Ongoing biomechanical analyses of both the lumbar and cervical spine are in progress at present. Support from the INSPIRE Foundation™ has resulted in the following publications.

Assessments of the effects of various spinal implants

In the quest for addressing the various conditions of the spine, there is a double tendency for moving towards minimal invasive surgery on the one hand, and the adoption of non-fusion technologies on the other. These tendencies have led to the development and progressive clinical adoption and adaptation amongst others of several interspinous devices. Although there are more and more clinical papers appearing in the literature there is a lack of in vivo studies comparing biomechanical outcomes – the objective of this area of our research.

The ovine model provides an excellent opportunity to evaluate existing or new technologies in the field of spinal implants. Support from the INSPIRE Foundation™ has resulted in the following publications.

Development and histological evaluation of new ovine spinal models

Degeneration of the intervertebral disc results in changes to the mechanics and morphology of the spine. Previous research using an ovine model has investigated the natural progression of lumbar disc injury to degeneration. Experimental use of such injuries, which mimics one seen in young human spines, received the Volvo Award for Basic Science from the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (Osti OL, Vernon-Roberts B, Fraser RD. Annulus tears and intervertebral disc degeneration. An experimental study using an animal model. Spine 15:762-67;1990). This lumbar model is now being universally used. The INSPIRE Foundation™ currently supports the development and validation of a similar model in the cervical spine.

Neurophysiological and biomechanical evaluation of mobilization, spinal manipulative and chiropractic adjustment techniques

A growing multi-disciplinary interest in spinal manipulation, mobilization, and chiropractic adjustment techniques has arisen in the wake of more than 100 randomized clinical trials. Because these conservative techniques are mechanical in nature, it is inherently logical to assume that their mechanisms of therapeutic benefit may lie in the mechanical properties of the applied force (mechanical mechanisms), the body’s response to such force (mechanical or physiologic mechanisms), or a combination of these and other factors.

Using intraoperative recording methodologies, needle electromyography and mechanical excitation devices, investigations into certain neurophysiological and biomechanical factors has been conducted through the support of the The INSPIRE Foundation™. This work was awarded First Prize, the Scott Haldeman Award at the World Federation of Chiropractic Congress. Support from the INSPIRE Foundation™ has resulted in the following publications.

Radiographic and advanced diagnostic imaging of the spine

Whereas in the 20th century medical imaging was dominated by Roentgenography (plain film x-ray and CT scanning), advancements in diagnostic imaging technologies provide new research avenues to study the spine. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), 3-D Computed Tomography, and Digital Motion X-Ray Analyses, the INSPIRE Foundation™ is spearheading investigations to improve our understanding of the diagnostic capabilities of these emerging technologies. Support from the INSPIRE Foundation™ has resulted in the following publications.


Inspire Cape Town - Symposium - Cape Town, South Africa
18 April 2015