Animal Models Program »

Spinal near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a recent technology that may detect critical thresholds of ischemia during the acute period of injury when cord is at risk from secondary hypoxic injury. There is a need for a large animal model with relevance to human spinal cord injury that can be used to study epidural stimulation technologies and to understand their spinal and supraspinal mechanisms. Additionally a human SCI relevant model can be used to test new NIRS technologies that can monitor critical thresholds of spinal cord perfusion and oxygenation in clinical practice. Our goals in this project are to develop a porcine model of spinal cord injury to investigate mechanisms of and efficacy of novel epidural stimulation paradigms, assess efficacy of therapeutic interventions for SCI, advance motor assessments, and develop better tools for monitoring critical reductions in cord flow and perfusion.


Maxwell Boakye, MD


Principal Investigators:

Dena Howland, PhD

Leslie Sherwood, DVM

Core Manager and Contact:

Robert Reed

Core Personnel:

Fidias Leon-Sarmiento, MD, PhD
Associate Professor

Lab Research Tech I

Lab Research Tech III


  • Establish a Yucatan pig model of SCI at UofL
  • Develop a treadmill based motor recovery score for evaluating SCI outcomes in this model
  • Evaluate safety, effects and mechanisms of novel epidural stimulation designs
  • Test sensitivity of an epidural NIRS optode to pharmacologically induced critical reductions in cord oxygenation and perfusion