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Systemic Hypothermia for the Treatment of Acute Cervical Spinal Cord Injury in Sports

Dietrich, William Dalton PhD; Cappuccino, Andrew MD; Cappuccino, Helen MD

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e318205e0b3
Spine Conditions

Spinal cord injury is a devastating condition that affects approximately 12,000 patients each year in the United States. Major causes for spinal cord injury include motor vehicle accidents, sports-related injuries, and direct trauma. Moderate hypothermia has gained attention as a potential therapy due to recent experimental and clinical studies and the use of modest systemic hypothermia (MSH) in high profile case of spinal cord injury in a National Football League (NFL) player. In experimental models of spinal cord injury, moderate hypothermia has been shown to improve functional recovery and reduce overall structural damage. In a recent Phase I clinical trial, systemic hypothermia has been shown to be safe and provide some encouraging results in terms of functional recovery. This review will summarize recent preclinical data, as well as clinical findings that support the continued investigations for the use of hypothermia in severe cervical spinal cord injury.

1The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL; 2Buffalo Spine Surgery, Lockport, NY; 3Team Orthopedic Surgeon Buffalo Bills, Buffalo, NY; 4Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Science, Buffalo, NY

Address for correspondence: W. Dalton Dietrich, PhD, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 1095 NW 14th Terrace, LPLC 2-30, Miami, FL 33136 (E-mail:

Copyright © 2011 by the American College of Sports Medicine.