AO Spine Knowledge Forum Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Building on worldwide research partnerships for global impact


AO Spine KF SCI seeks to define new treatment approaches to enhance outcomes for both traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injury patients. In collaboration with key partners, they: 

  • lead an international, multi-center, randomized, controlled trial; 
  • have undertaken a series of systematic reviews and developed guidelines;
  • combined a large prospective registry to address crucial clinical questions related to the assessment and management of traumatic SCI.

Ongoing research projects

  • Modulation of Inflammatory Responses
    Modulation of Inflammatory Responses Using Neural Crest Derived Dental Pulp Stem Cells Following Acute Spinal Cord Injury

    Principal investigator:
    Ryan O’Hare Doig

    Co-Principal investigators:
    Brian James, Christopher Freeman, Stan Gronthos

    Aims to develop a better understanding of the pathophysiological pathways and effects of stem cell distribution, survival and differentiation, following spinal cord injury using advanced imaging and labelling techniques

    AO Spine Research Objectives and Common Data Elements for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (RECODE-DCM)

    Principal investigator:
    Mark Kotter

    Co-Principal investigator:
    Benjamin Davis

    1. Aims to establish a standardized definition for DCM.
    2. Create a list of unanswered DCM research questions, ranked according to priority.
    3. Create a standardized set of baseline characteristics and outcomes which should be measured in DCM research.

    Study website


  • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Database Merge

    Combining data from two existing registries (NACTN and STASCIS)

    Principal investigator (PI):
    Michael Fehlings

    To combine two existing databases on patients with spinal cord injuries treated surgically (NACTN and STASCIS) and to assess descriptive data on injury/surgery details, as well as the ASIA score and complications reported

    Publication summary


    A multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded trial of the efficacy and safety of Riluzole in acute spinal cord injury

    Principal investigator (PI):
    Michael Fehlings

    Aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Riluzole in the treatment of patients with acute spinal cord injury. The primary objective is to evaluate the superiority of Riluzole, as compared to a placebo, in improving motor outcomes as measured by the ASIA Motor Score at six months follow-up, in patients with acute traumatic spinal cord injury, presenting to hospital less than 12 hours after injury. 

    Co-sponsored by AO Spine North America, US Department of Defense, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Rick Hansen Institute

    Publication summary Identifier: NCT01597518

Completed research projects

  • SCI-DCM Guidelines

    Development of evidence-based clinical guidelines for the treatment of acute spinal cord injury (SCI)

    Principal investigator:
    Michael Fehlings

    A set of systematic reviews will deliver an understanding of the current state of the field. Based on this knowledge, a global team of clinical experts in SCI will then go through the rigorous process of developing evidence-based clinical guidelines for the treatment of acute spinal cord injury. Injury specific to the five selected topics: 

    • Use of methylprednisolone 
    • Timing of decompression 
    • Role and timing of magnetic resonance imaging
    • Type and timing of anticoagulation 
    • Type and timing of rehabilitation
    Co-sponsored by AO Spine North America

    Guidelines Special Issue
    Publication summary

    Access the guidelines here

KF Spinal cord injury (SCI) Steering Committee

Brian Kwon

Brian Kwon

University of British Columbia 
Vancouver, Canada

Michael Fehlings

Past Chairperson 
University of Toronto 
Toronto, Canada

Shekar Kurpad

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin 
Milwaukee, USA

James Harrop

Thomas Jefferson University 
Philadelphia, USA

Bizhan Aarabi

University of Maryland 
Baltimore, USA

Mark Kotter

University of Cambridge
Cambridge, UK

Vafa Rahimi-Movaghar

Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Tehran, Iran

James Guest

James Guest

University of Miami
Miami, USA

KF SCI Associate Members

Benjamin Davies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Ryan O’Hare Doig, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Nathan Evaniew, Foothills Medical Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Mario Ganau, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
Daniel E. Graves, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Christoph Hofstetter, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Rex Marco, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA
Paul Koljonen, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Allan R. Martin, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
Narihito Nagoshi, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
Hiroaki Nakashima, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Aichi, Japan
Chris Neal, Bethesda, MD, USA
Ricardo Rodrigues-Pinto, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Aditya Vedantam, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA
Jeff Wilson, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

Knowledge Forum Manager

Olesja Hazenbiller

Olesja Hazenbiller

Senior Project Manager

Other Knowledge Forums

KF Tumor

AO Spine KF Tumor

KF Deformity

AO Spine KF Deformity

KF Trauma

AO Spine KF Trauma

KF Degeneration

AO Spine KF Degenerative

“We are defining critical knowledge gaps that represent areas of research in the future. We’d like to see this lead to changes in clinical practice, improved outcomes, and changes in society with better access to care.”

Michael Fehlings, Past Chairperson KF SCI, Research Commission member

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