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Scientists at University of Brighton get £100,000 spine health grant
2:20pm Tuesday 13th August 2013 in News
Can maths help unlock the secrets of the spine?
Scientists at the University of Brighton have won a £100,000 grant to look into how the subject can help doctors better understand deformities.
They will be looking particularly at the formation of fluid-filled cavities in the spinal cord. Previous medical investigations have failed to find any chemical or biological process responsible for them.
Scientists hope to create a mathematical model which will be able to demonstrate how the changes in the pressure of the cerebral-spinal fluid can cause the cavities to form and grow. This would avoid the need to carry out a physical examination.
The project is being led by Paul Harris from the university’s school of computing, engineering and mathematics.
He said: “One of the questions that researchers working in the general area of neuroscience seek to answer is how fluid-filled cavities in the spinal cord form and grow in size.
“It is almost impossible to answer this question using experimental techniques due to the difficulties with accurately measuring quantities inside the body of a patient with the condition and the long timescales of cavity formation.
“The alternative is to produce a mathematical model of the spinal cord, based on an understanding of the properties of the materials involved and use this model to investigate possible mechanical processes which could cause the cavities to formand grow.”
Dr Harris hopes providing an accurate mathematical model could lead to improved treatments of spinal deformities.
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