Neilsen Project

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Dr. David McMillan collecting data

neilsen project doctor with patient
neilsen project staff

Persons with spinal cord injuries are at much greater risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, compared to the general population. Excessive accumulation of body fat, a widely reported occurrence within the first year after spinal cord injury, is the most serious risk component for these diseases.

Drs. Kevin Jacobs, David McMillan (KIN doctoral graduate and current postdoctoral fellow at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis), and Mark Nash are currently studying the effects of spinal cord injury on fat metabolism in response to feeding and exercise. This work will improve our understanding of disordered fat metabolism in this population, as well as the effectiveness of exercise in preventing excessive body fat accumulation. The ultimate goal of this translational work is to guide the development of innovative rehabilitation strategies aimed at improving the quality of life of this population.

With funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, investigators are testing adult men with chronic paraplegia, tetraplegia, and age-matched control subjects without spinal cord injury. The effects of spinal cord injury and an acute bout of upper body exercise on use of fats stored in the body as well as those from a recently ingested meal will be examined using novel stable isotope tracer methods and frequent blood and breath sampling.

Preliminary results from this study have already been presented at the annual meetings of the American Spinal Injury Association and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Investigators hope to complete data collection in the Summer of 2021.