Role of physical training and intraspinal hemodynamic changes in the recovery of forelimb function after cervical spinal cord injury in rats

This request for an administrative diversity supplement award will allow Gustavo Josue Hernandez to develop as a scientist and gain additional training and skills needed to be competitive candidate into a PhD program in Physical Therapy. Mr. Hernandez will work with Dr. Khaing (Mentor) and Dr. Bruce (co-mentor) to learn and develop skills to complete a successful research project. Mr. Hernandez will work within the scope of the parent R01 grant. This project proposes to examine and evaluate critical blood flow parameters that can reduce grey matter loss for improved functional recovery after cervical SCI in a rodent model. We hypothesize that reducing the propagation of intraparenchymal hemorrhage and reducing elevated intraspinal pressure after SCI can improve spinal tissue perfusion and mitigate secondary grey matter loss for improved functional outcomes. Importantly, because there are known sex differences in cerebral blood flow and response to spinal cord injury, hemodynamic changes after cervical SCI in both males and females will be examined. By applying this innovative ultrasound imaging, we aim to (1) discover critical perfusion thresholds for grey matter tissue at risk, (2) monitor spatial and temporal development of the intraparenchymal hematoma, and (3) evaluate treatment effects of reducing raised intraspinal pressure in real-time. Overall, these studies aim to provide direct insights into the critical hemodynamic changes within the microcirculation of the spinal cord, as well as effective ways of limiting secondary grey matter damage for improved functional recovery after SCI. Mr. Hernandez will receive training in surgical techniques, ultrasound imaging techniques as well as histological techniques to accomplish the proposed work. Additionally. Mr. Hernandez will receive training in MATLAB for image acquisition, processing and data analysis using this program. Mr. Hernandez will receive mentoring from Drs. Khaing and Bruce on experimental design, execution as well as data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript writing skills. Mr. Hernandez will also be expected to present the findings from this project at a national or international meeting to gain additional exposure and networking opportunities. Finally, Mr. Hernandez will be encouraged to develop his own research ideas to be developed as F31 in the future.

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Sponsor: NIH/NINDS