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Invaluable tool for clinical trials


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Spinal cord injuries (SCI) often lead to life-long functional deficits. Despite the lack of effective treatment options, considerable progress has been made in the patient care. In the last decades new techniques have been implemented, such as early spine surgery, blood pressure augmentation, individualized rehabilitation, and treatment of secondary complications. However, little was known about the impact of these advances on functional recovery.

Developments of the last twenty years
In a recently published study, an international research group led by neuroscientists in Switzerland described the development of spinal cord injury patients over the last twenty years. They included more than 4,600 patients from the European clinical data set EMSCI. Data was collected in the acute phase, meaning over the first 12 months after injury. The researchers found out that some demographic features of spinal cord injury patients have changed significantly over the past twenty years. For instance, the distribution of age at injury considerably increased. Moreover, causes and characteristics of injuries have changed.
On the other hand, the ratio of male to female patients remained at 3:1. Additionally, the proportional distribution of injury severities and levels did not change. Surprisingly and despite all medical progress, no significant difference was to be found regarding the recovery rate in the last two decades.

New web platform
Recently, the research team created an open-access web platform for data monitored in the acute phase. It is called Neurosurveillance and stands out as an invaluable tool for the SCI research community. The data base is especially useful when it comes to creating and designing new clinical studies. And adapting them to the current generation of acutely injured patients. Neurosurveillance could become an important building block in order to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

This study was published in the journal BMC Medecine and was supported by Wings for Life.

Source: Bourguignon L, Tong B, Geisler F et al. International surveillance study in acute spinal cord injury confirms viability of multinational clinical trials. BMC Med 20, 225 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02395-0

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.