Anh Khoa Vo’s MSc Thesis Proposal

Title: “Identifying Novel Predictors for Neurological Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury”

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. John Kramer (Kinesiology)
Committee members: Dr. Eli Puterman (Kinesiology), Tania Lam (Kinesiology)

Introduction: Neurological recovery following spinal cord injury (SCI) is highly variable, and therefore difficult to predict. Prior studies have proposed biomarkers that can improve the prognosis and diagnosis of acute SCI. However, these studies only focused on one or a few biomarkers, which may not capture the complex nature of SCI.

Objective: Our research has 2 aims.
Aim 1: To determine the combination of hematological and serum biomarkers that best predict outcomes after SCI.

Aim 2: To validate our findings in a contemporary SCI cohort.

Aim 1: This was a retrospective analysis of the completed clinical Sygen trial, which tested the efficacy of GM-1 (monosialotetrahexosylganglioside) in acute, traumatic SCI. A total of 42 serological biomarkers were analyzed using Factor Analysis. In addition to blood markers, other confounders (sex, age, spinal level injury, and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) grades) were included in the analysis. Outcomes included Lower Extremity Motor Scores (LEMS), marked recovery (2 grades improvement from the baseline AIS grades), and survival.

Aim 2: The data accessed through Archive of Data on Disability to Enable Policy and research (ADDEP) from the SCIRehab study. the SCIRehab study enrolled SCI patients rehabilitated at six participating rehabilitation centers from 2007 through 2009.

Preliminary Results: We hypothesize that factors (combinations of blood markers) to be independent predictors of neurological outcomes after SCI after adjusting for other confounders.