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Holmes advances bladder, bowel dysfunction studies in preclinical spinal cord injury research

Bladder and bowel dysfunction, also known as neurogenic bladder and bowel, are two common and understudied complications in patients with spinal cord injuries. The inability to control those functions affects approximately 60% of spinal cord injury patients and results in diminished independence and poor quality of life.

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Dr. Gregory Holmes

Gregory Holmes, MD, PhD

Dr. Gregory Holmes, professor of neural and behavioral sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, joined leaders in spinal cord injury care and research, including directors at the National Institutes of Health and representatives from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, to advance research in neurogenic bladder and bowel following spinal cord injury.

With funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the researchers formulated a framework for planning and executing the research needed in these areas, and established recommendations for translating research findings into practical recommendations for community use by individuals with spinal cord injury.

Holmes was the first author on a paper published in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine titled, “Recommendations for evaluation of bladder and bowel function in pre-clinical spinal cord injury research.” In the paper, he and coauthors emphasized that in order for research addressing neurogenic bowel and bladder in spinal cord injury patients to progress, those who do preclinical research in animal models of spinal cord injury should collect certain types of data in their studies.

Holmes and colleagues identified and categorized fundamental, supplemental and recommended measures for assessing bladder and bowel function in preclinical research of spinal cord injury. Three measures identified as fundamental included tissue morphology, voiding efficiency and volume and smooth muscle-mediated pressure studies.

By incorporating these measures, Holmes and colleagues posit that fundamental studies of spinal cord injury could assess bladder and bowel function non-invasively and simultaneously in addition to their own experimental measures. Including these assessments as common data elements in studies may advance research progress in this important area.

Read the full set of recommendations in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine.

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