Predicting recovery – An Update


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In a previous post, we highlighted the difficulty of predicting recovery after a spinal cord injury. This can make things very complicated when it gets to testing the effect of a potential treatment. It is therefore of outmost importance to create new, more precise tools. Scientists headed by Dr. Patrick Freund developed such new tool with the support of the Wings for Life foundation. The prestigious “Journal of Neurotrauma” published the new results.

We are mostly made of water
Just as a sponge soaked in water, most of our body (three quarter) is made of water. The spinal cord and brain contain and float in a liquid made of almost pure water. Called the Cerebrospinal fluid, it provides nourishment and acts as shock absorbent in case of direct hit. Injury triggers inflammation and has the potential to alter the amount of this liquid. Using an imaging technique, the scientists analyzed over time changes in the volume of liquid contained within the brain and spinal cord. They then established a correlation with the recovery observed for each individual, two years later.

A new tool
To be more precise, Freund and his colleagues found that local changes in the fluid volumes, and not the total amount, correlated with accelerated damage. Scientists emitted the idea that this local volume increase could be correlated with the degeneration of the brain region involved in the movement control (primary motor cortex).
The results should be confirmed on a larger group. However, future clinical trials could benefit from this new tool. In the end, this will increase the chances of success when testing a potential treatment for spinal cord injuries.

Wings for Life was supporting this important research.

Source: “Progressive ventricles enlargement and CSF volume increases as a marker of neurodegeneration in SCI patients: A longitudinal MRI study”. Seif M, Ziegler G, Freund P. Journal of Neurotrauma, July 2018.