Spinal Cord Injury

Approximately 250,000 - 500,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI) every year. There is no cure and many will experience lifelong acute and chronic health difficulties making animal models vital to improve patient quality of life.

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Sports Injuries
  • Birth injuries
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Falls
  • Violence
  • Infections
  • Stroke


Commonly Used Species in Spinal Cord Injury Research

Mouse Silhouette






non-human primate

Nonhuman Primates


DSI Solutions are Trusted by SCI Researchers to Get Meaningful Results from Their Studies

Acute and chronic studies are necessary to better understand the injury cascades following trauma to the spinal cord. In addition, physiologic changes to multiple organ systems occur depending on the level of injury and can lead to decreased quality of life or life threatening conditions. A holistic view of possible complications should be taken into consideration when studying spinal cord injury (SCI) in animal models. DSI provides a wide range of validated physiological monitoring solutions to fit researcher needs during the many stages of their research.

Click on a research area below to learn more about endpoints of interest collected in SCI research


Cardiac dysfunction is common in the acute and chronic phases of high level spinal cord injury. Complications include autonomic dysreflexia (life-threatening hypertension), hypotension, orthostatic intolerance, alternations in heart rate, cardiomyopathy, and increased risk for coronary heart disease. Snapshot or continuous cardiovascular data collection is commonly done following injury or for monitoring long-term effects spinal cord injury has on the cardiovascular system, respectively.

Common Endpoints

Blood Pressure

Heart Rate

Pressure-Volume Loops

Blood Flow


Google Scholar Indexes 109 Publications Citing DSI, Cardiovascular and Spinal Cord Injury


Respiratory complications can occur in Thoracic 12 - Cervical 1 SCI and can range from weakened abdominal muscles to complete ventilation. Pulmonary issues are the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in the first year post spinal cord injury. 

Common Endpoints

Breathing Frequency

 Inspiratory and Expiratory Duration

 Peak Airflow Rates

 Tidal and Expiratory Reserve Volume

 Volume and Functional Residual Capacity

Respiratory Muscle Function

Lung and Chest Wall Compliance


Google Scholar Indexes 136 Publications Citing DSI's Buxco Respiratory Solutions and Spinal Cord Injury

Behavioral Testing

Functional assessments are commonly done in SCI research. Behavioral and mobility experiments allow researchers to evaluate the extent of injury, identify rehabilitation and recovery methods, and evaluate treatment options. There are a variety of behavioral tests that are used in SCI research.

Common Endpoints

Task Performance

Electromyogram (EMG)

Activity and Ambulation

Pain and Sensation

Functional Recovery



*Behavioral solutions are available from our Harvard Bioscience sister brands Panlab and Coulbourn Instruments. Reach out to us to learn more about how to incorporate these solutions into your current research set-up. 

Google Scholar
290 Publications Citing Panlab and Spinal Cord Injury
162 Publications Citing Coulbourn and Spinal Cord Injury
45 Publications Citing DSI Spinal, Cord Injury and EMG


Sleep disorders are commonly reported in patients following SCI and occur due to pain, circadian rhythm disturbances, breathing difficulties, abnormal leg movements, pharmacological effects, and depression. Researchers are looking to better understand how sleep affects injury recovery and quality of life after injury. Electroencephalogram (EEG) and Electromyogram (EMG) are the most common methods used to evaluate sleep in animals and humans.

Common Endpoints

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

 Electromyogram (EMG)

Respiratory Rate

Tidal Volume


Google Scholar Indexes 61 Publications Citing DSI, Spinal Cord Injury and Sleep


Dysregulation of temperature control below the point of injury is common in patients with cervical and high thoracic injuries. Hyperthermic and hypothermic conditions can result in serious life threatening conditions if not recognized quickly enough. Invasive temperature monitoring is the only way to accurately assess core body temperature.

Common Endpoints

Core Body Temperature

Localized Temperature

Ambient Temperature



Google Scholar Indexes 137 Publications Citing DSI, Spinal Cord Injury and Temperature

Sexual Function

Sexual dysfunction after a SCI depends on location and severity of initial injury. Many people report disturbances in sexual function, which can lead to a decreased quality of life.  

Common Endpoints


Penile Pressure

Penile Reflexes



Google Scholar Indexes 17 Publications Citing DSI, Spinal Cord Injury and Sexual Function


Highlighted Publications

Chung, E., Yoon, T. G., Kim, S., Kang, M., Kim, H. J., & Son, Y. (2017). Intravenous administration of substance p attenuates mechanical allodynia following nerve injury by regulating neuropathic pain-related factorsBiomolecules & therapeutics25(3), 259.

Ellman, D. G., Degn, M., Lund, M. C., Clausen, B. H., Novrup, H. G., Flæng, S. B., ... & Lambertsen, K. L. (2016). Genetic ablation of soluble TNF does not affect lesion size and functional recovery after moderate spinal cord injury in miceMediators of inflammation2016.

Harel, N. Y., Song, K. H., Tang, X., & Strittmatter, S. M. (2010). Nogo receptor deletion and multimodal exercise improve distinct aspects of recovery in cervical spinal cord injuryJournal of neurotrauma27(11), 2055-2066.

Harman, K. A., States, G., Wade, A., Stepp, C., Wainwright, G., DeVeau, K., ... & Magnuson, D. S. (2018). Temporal analysis of cardiovascular control and function following incomplete T3 and T10 spinal cord injury in rodentsPhysiological Reports6(6), e13634.

Järve, A., Todiras, M., Kny, M., Fischer, F. I., Kraemer, J. F., Wessel, N., ... & Bader, M. (2019). Angiotensin-(1-7) receptor mas in hemodynamic and thermoregulatory dysfunction after high-level spinal cord injury in mice: a pilot studyFrontiers in physiology9, 1930.

Komnenov, D., Solarewicz, J. Z., Afzal, F., Nantwi, K. D., Kuhn, D. M., & Mateika, J. H. (2016). Intermittent hypoxia promotes recovery of respiratory motor function in spinal cord-injured mice depleted of serotonin in the central nervous system. Journal of applied physiology121(2), 545-557.

Lee, K. Z. (2019). Impact of cervical spinal cord contusion on the breathing pattern across the sleep-wake cycle in the ratJournal of Applied Physiology126(1), 111-123.

Lujan, H. L., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2020). Direct comparison of cervical and high thoracic spinal cord injury reveals distinct autonomic and cardiovascular consequencesJournal of Applied Physiology128(3), 554-564.

Masood, F., Abdullah, H. A., Seth, N., Simmons, H., Brunner, K., Sejdic, E., ... & Sledge, J. B. (2019). Neurophysiological Characterization of a Non-Human Primate Model of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Utilizing Fine-Wire EMG ElectrodesSensors19(15), 3303.

Streijger, F., So, K., Manouchehri, N., Tigchelaar, S., Lee, J. H., Okon, E. B., ... & Kwon, B. K. (2017). Changes in pressure, hemodynamics, and metabolism within the spinal cord during the first 7 days after injury using a porcine modelJournal of neurotrauma34(24), 3336-3350.

Taccola, G., Gad, P., Culaclii, S., Ichiyama, R. M., Liu, W., & Edgerton, V. R. (2020). Using EMG to deliver lumbar dynamic electrical stimulation to facilitate cortico-spinal excitabilityBrain Stimulation13(1), 20-34.