Improving motor prognosis after spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to devastating muscle paralysis. My research has shown that paralysis is due, not only to interruption of communication across the damaged spinal cord, but also because of damage to the nerves and muscles outside the spinal cord, which are equally as important in producing strength. This unrecognized damage may influence prognosis and how a patient responds to treatment. Unfortunately, we do not routinely test the health of these nerves and muscles. This makes it very challenging for doctors to provide patients with accurate information about prognosis and also for patients to make proper decisions about treatment options. My project will showcase the health of nerves and muscles after SCI, using a combination of routine clinical and special laboratory techniques. This information will lead to:

  1. Identification of those at risk of nerve and muscle damage.
  2. Routine assessment of nerve/muscle health in clinical practice.
  3. The development of a tool to help patients make informed decisions about treatment.

The project will be conducted by my team at GF Strong Hospital and with collaborators in three other Canadian centres.