Development of a novel biophotonics method to improve treatment and neurological outcomes in acute spinal cord injury

Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating neurological condition resulting in permanent morbidity and impaired quality of life. In spite of advancements in the acute treatment of SCI, preventing neurological deficits in affected patients is highly limited. The hemodynamic management of acute SCI patients to maintain blood supply and maximize oxygenation of the injured spinal cord tissue is currently one of the few aspects of critical care in which clinicians can improve neurologic outcomes. However, optimizing the hemodynamic management in acute SCI is limited and challenging due to the lack of a real-time means for monitoring spinal cord blood flow, oxygenation, and hydrostatic pressure.

The overall objective of Dr. Shadgan's research is to develop a novel optical method, using an implantable optical sensor and system that work based on near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to provide real-time measurements of spinal cord hemodynamics in acute human SCI. Such a tool would provide information to guide clinicians in their treatment decisions and allow them to personalize the hemodynamic management of acute SCI patients to optimize neurologic outcomes. This program includes a sequence of preclinical studies aimed to translate this approach to human SCI patients. Dr. Shadgan's research program will also include the training of highly qualified personnel, intellectual property protection of the method and system, and knowledge translation.