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Improving Survival and Promoting Respiratory Motor Function After Cervical Spinal Cord Injury


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Most spinal cord injuries (SCI) occur near the neck. The cervical level of the spinal cord is located near this area. At this level are the connections to the cells which instruct the diaphragm, the major muscle used for breathing, to contract. Therefore, damage at the cervical level can lead to a paralyzed diaphragm and an inability to breathe and inspire air. Patients who survive this type of injury often need the use of a mechanical ventilator in order to survive. Use of the ventilator severely limits the quality of life of those injured and dramatically increases the demand for health care. However, despite these drastic interventions, the cervical injured patient is still susceptible to death due to respiratory complications. This application proposes to help improve survival, decrease early dependence on mechanical ventilation, and restore breathing after cervical spinal cord injury, as well as develop prognostic indicators for injury progression and recovery. Through these studies we endeavor to add to the standard of care for cervical SCI patients so as to lead to an improved quality of life, better-quality health care management, and improved functional outcomes.



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