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Spinal Cord Injury



Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) is presented in two phases – primary phase of mechanical trauma and secondary phase, chronic, local hypotension. SCI presents itself in 17,000 new cases per year. Less than 5% of patients afflicted with acute SCI with Grade A injuries exhibit improvement. Patients of SCI can be subject to tetraplegia and paraplegia. Blood-flow abnormalities can be indicative of hemorrhage, hypoxia, cyst formation, and glial scarring. There is currently no standard to measure blood flow in the spinal cord. The ability to monitor mean arterial pressure (MAP) may serve as a pivotal measure to treat and to prevent the aggregation of such clinical issues.Patients that suffer from high tetraplegia can incur over a million dollars in the first year, while patients with low tetraplegia and paraplegia may incur $800,000 and $500,000, respectively. Costs are incurred from the spinal surgery, rehabilitation, medication, medical equipment, and long-term care. Effectively monitoring the SCBF can lead to a reduction of the rate of paralysis and other clinical issues indicative of abnormal blood flow and can be used to determine recovery. While the target population is 17,000 patients, the foreseeable implications of an intraoperative blood flow monitor that could extend beyond SCI and may be used for other traumatic injury procedures. However this will be our primary target reach. A reduction of costs and improving the quality of life for patients can be expected with a viable solution. Patients need a solution in order to mitigate further clinical issues characteristic of abnormal blood flow. Clinicians require an ergonomic, portable method of measurement that can be used in the operating room. The solution scope for this project spans imaging techniques, sensors, etc. Viable directions of investigation include piezoelectric-polymer films MRI optical imaging and ultrasound, as explained by Dr. Theodore. To validate and determine the accuracy and random error of our developed method, microspheres can be used as a reference. These published sources along with the resources that we will have available provide proof of feasibility.

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