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Blood chemistry predicts future

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People that experience a spinal cord injury will in most cases recover a portion of the functions that they lost. This happens especially within the first year after injury. The inability to predict the extent of recovery leads to several issues. In terms of clinical care, a prediction would help to adapt individual rehabilitation protocols. Yet, for research missing prediction complicates testing of potential treatments. Indeed, even if a patient recovers, it is impossible to conclude that the treatment was successful, which is odd but logic. That is the reason why clinical trials have very strict rules for selecting numerous patients with similar injuries.

Improving predictions
Several studies looked at the predictive value of some biomarkers. For example, proteins found in the blood or the fluid that flows in and around the spinal cord. Although partly successful, those tests carried some risks and effort for the patients and mostly require complex and expensive methods not typically available in clinics. A group of scientists and clinicians led by Prof. Aigner (Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria) achieved success in finding better biomarkers.

Blood chemistry to predict recovery
Using a large group of almost 700 patients, the scientists tracked the patient's recovery while monitoring numerous biomarkers. Their analysis revealed that four blood chemistry parameters evaluated eight weeks after incomplete injury could predict the functional recovery observed one year later: platelet counts, albumin, alkaline phosphatase and creatinine. These parts of blood chemistry differentiated patients who regained walking from those who remained wheelchair bound.

This study was published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair and was supported by Wings for Life.

Source: Leister I, Linde LD, Vo AK, Haider T, Mattiassich G, Grassner L, Schaden W, Resch H, Jutzeler CR, Geisler FH, Kramer JLK, Aigner L. Routine Blood Chemistry Predicts Functional Recovery After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury: A Post Hoc Analysis. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2021 Feb 22:1545968321992328. doi: 10.1177/1545968321992328.

You can find out more on the spinal cord and the influence of its damage on the human body in our basic-information. Wings for Life Glossary gives an understanding of scientific terms.