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Award-winning tool helps predict course of recovery from spinal cord injury

October 11, 2017


“Will I ever walk again?” is one of the first questions a person asks after a spinal cord injury. Because each person’s recovery is different, it’s often hard for physicians to predict what an individual will be able to do in the future. Dr. Philippe Phan’s team, including Drs. Eugene Wai, Eve Tsai and Darren Roffey and contributors from across the country, has made answering this question easier by simplifying an existing prediction tool. The original tool used five measurements taken in the days after an injury to predict whether a patient would be able to walk unassisted one year later. The team identified which of these variables contributed the most, then used them to create a simplified tool with only three measurements. The simplified tool was just as accurate as the original, and can predict with 84 percent accuracy whether someone will be able to walk again a year after they’ve had a spinal cord injury. The team hopes having fewer measurements will speed up the initial examination and encourage more physicians to use the tool. Katie Hicks, a medical student in Dr. Phan’s lab, was awarded the Founders' Medal from the Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society for her work on this paper published in The Spine Journal.

Authors: Katharine E. Hicks, Yichen Zhao, Nader Fallah, Carly S. Rivers, Vanessa K. Noonan, Tova Plashkes, Eugene K. Wai, Darren M. Roffey, Eve C. Tsai, Jerome Paquet, Najmedden Attabib, Travis Marion, Henry Ahn, Philippe Phan, The RHSCIR Network

Funding: The Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Organization, Rick Hansen Institute, Canada Summer Jobs Program

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