Lead Center:Ohio Regional SCI Model System (ORSCIMS)
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Patients with acute spinal cord injury (SCI) frequently develop infections, most commonly pneumonia and urinary tract infections. These infections can effect recovery of function and sometimes lead to death. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a part of the nervous system that regulates bodily functions such as the rate that the heart beats (heart rate). Problems with the ANS occur as a result of the SCI. Problems with the ANS can lead to the paralysis of the immune system making one susceptible to infections. The primary objective of this study is to determine whether monitoring the activity of the ANS such as the variability of the heart rate (heart rate variability, HRV) will identify those individuals who will likely develop infections after SCI. We also seek to examine what causes paralysis of the immune system in patients with SCI. Additionally, any associations between SCI, SCI-associated infections, certain nerve cell functions and cognitive (“thinking”) and behavioral performance will be explored.