UBC researchers receive large funding boost from U.S. Department of Defense

Research aims to improve long-term outcomes for spinal cord injury patients

The United States Department of Defense has provided over $2M ($1.65M USD) to support ongoing research exploring the optimization of blood pressure management in newly-injured spinal cord injury (SCI) patients.

When a patient sustains a SCI, one of the sole initial treatment options is to manage the cardiovascular system and optimize blood flow to the injury site.

Dr. Chris West

Study principal investigator Dr. Chris West stresses the need for increasing blood flow to deliver vital blood and oxygen to the spinal cord while minimizing further damage at the epicentre of the injury.

“Our research focuses on a new treatment approach that will, theoretically, improve blood flow patterns in the spinal cord while reducing bleeding at the injury site itself, which should improve long-term outcomes for SCI patients,” says Dr. West, investigator with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management and ICORD (International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries).

New findings could lead to changes in the way SCI patients have their blood pressure managed during the seven- to ten-day period post-injury.

“If more spinal cord tissue can be spared at the injury site, we can improve cardiovascular and motor function over the long-term,” adds West. “Ultimately, this would help increase a patient’s independence and reduce their odds of developing cardiovascular disease.”

Project collaborators for the pre-clinical study include co-investigator Dr. Brian Kwon, Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury and Professor with the UBC Department of Orthopaedics and ICORD and Dr. Ryan Hoiland, UBC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine.