SCIPA Programme: Spinal Cord Injury and Physical Activity: Intensive Exercise from Acute Care to the Community



Led by the University of Melbourne, SCIPA was a series of multi-centre randomised controlled clinical trials that examined the effectiveness of very early intervention for the lower limbs, task-specific training for the arm and hand, and an intensive activity-based therapy program for the whole body including the paralysed limbs. A Certificate Training Program to improve the knowledge and confidence of fitness instructors in the community regarding exercise for people with spinal cord injury was also designed and evaluated.


Status of Research



Feedback for Participants:

SCIPA Full-On results, read HERE

SCIPA Switch-On results, read HERE

SCIPA Hands-On results, read HERE

Experiences of taking part in the SCIPA ‘Full-On’


Galea, M.P., Dunlop, S.A., Geraghty, T., Davis, G.M., Nunn, A., Olenko, L., Hurley, M., Rehab, R., Marshall, R., Clark, J., Acland, R., Nunnerley, J. (2018). SCIPA Full-On: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Intensive Whole-Body Exercise and Upper Body Exercise After Spinal Cord Injury. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

Calder, A., Nunnerley, J., Mulligan, H., Ahmad Ali, N., Kensington, G., McVicar, T., & van Schaik, O. (2017). Experiences of persons with spinal cord injury undertaking a physical activity programme as part of the SCIPA ‘Full-On’ randomised controlled trial. Disability and Health Journal. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2017.10.005

Galea, M.P., Panisset, M.G., El-Ansary, Dunlop, S.A,…Nunnerley, J. (2017) SCIPA Switch-On: A Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating the Efficacy and Safety of Functional Electrical Stimulation–Assisted Cycling and Passive Cycling Initiated Early After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 2017, Vol. 31(6) 540–551.

Harvey, L.A., Dunlop, S.A., Churilov, L., Galea M.P.,…..Sinnott KA…..Spinal Cord Injury Physical Activity (SCIPA) Hands On Trial Collaborators. (2016) Early intensive hand rehabilitation is not more effective than usual care plus one-to-one hand therapy in people with sub-acute spinal cord injury (‘Hands On’):a randomised trial. Journal of Physiotherapy 62 (2016) 88–95

Key Contact

Dr Jo Nunnerley,
Burwood Academy of Independent Living.
Phone:  +64 3 383 6871
Mobile:  +64 21 1872651

Researchers and Collaborators

Dr Rick Acland,

Anne Sinnott,

Raj Singhal,