A finite element model of the spinal cord

The way spinal cord tissue responds to different forces is not well understood. Carolyn Greaves is designing a specialized computer model of the spinal cord and its surrounding structures to measure the impact of different types of injury. This type of model of the spinal cord, called a finite element model, has never been developed before. The model will provide detailed measurements of spinal cord response to internal stresses, strains, and pressure changes in spinal fluid, as well as the impact on blood vessels, grey matter (nerve cell bodies) and white matter (nerve fibres). This information will broaden understanding of spinal cord injuries and be used to evaluate potential treatments. As well, neurological changes-such as swelling-occur following a spinal cord injury and can lead to secondary injuries. Carolyn’s model may lead the development of other models that could provide better understanding of these secondary injuries and how to treat them.