About Spinal Cord Injury

Facts about spinal cord injury (SCI) [1]

  • There are about 12,000 new cases each year in the US
  • 232,000 to 316,000 people are currently living with SCI
  • Young adults are the most affected-- the mean age at injury is 28.7 years
  • Most injuries occur between the ages of 16 and 30
  • 80.7% of injuries occur to males
  • 40.4% of injuries are due to vehicle crashes

The human vertebral column [2]
A routine clinical examination for SCI currently lacks the ability to effectively detect the presence of survived fibers, especially in the acute phase, which is the time period within the first six months after injury. Therefore, patients with an anatomically incomplete injury may still be categorized as having suffered a complete spinal cord injury.

This is a devastating misdiagnosis for patients with SCI. Even a small number of spared fibers after spinal cord injury with correct treatment can make a huge difference in the quality of life for patients. Patients with an incomplete injury have much better prognosis, but first the physician must recognize it. If some sensory-motor function is preserved because some fibers are spared at the time of injury, the chance that the patient will eventually be able to walk is greater than 50%. Ultimately, 90% of patients with SCI return to their homes and regain independence.

Our goals are to establish suitable laboratory models and methodologies that are not only applicable in basic research but also translatable for future clinical studies. The long-term goal of our research is to develop improved technologies and therapies for treatment of SCI, as well as diagnostic tools to aid clinicians. We focus this bioengineering research on developing novel technology and quantitative methods to determine the injury extent and recovery of the axonal pathways by multifaceted approaches that utilizes electrophysiological, anatomical, and behavioral monitoring techniques. In addition, we are interested in monitoring therapeutic strategies to SCI, including stem cell transplantation and hypothermia.

  1. Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance from www.nscisc.uab.edu
  2. Image courtesy of www.imaios.com