Spinal cord injury: what determines recovery?

July 25, 2014

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a two year, $300,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Research to study better recovery and care for spinal cord injury patients.

Matthew Budde, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery at MCW, is the primary investigator for this grant. Other key team members include Shekar Kurpad, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurosurgery at MCW and a neurosurgeon at Froedtert Hospital and the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center; and Brian Schmit, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette University. The project will utilize resources within the Center for Imaging Research and the Neuroscience Research Center, both at MCW.

Predicting the degree of recovery in patients with spinal cord injury remains difficult, since every injury and individual is unique. The goal of this project is to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to improve diagnosis and prognosis in spinal cord injuries. Dr. Budde and his team will use a specialized MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to monitor microscopic changes in the spinal cord structure after the injury.

The results gathered from the study will help establish the imaging technique as a marker of injury and predictor of outcome. This added information will provide clinicians with valuable insight regarding the potential for recovery from spinal cord injuries, helping them make better-informed decisions for patient care. Further, the results will offer newer approaches to monitor treatments beneficial to spinal cord injury patient care.

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