Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Schmit, Brian D.

Second Advisor

Ropella, Kristina M.

Third Advisor

Schmainda, Kathleen M.


Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTIMRI or RDTI) is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that quantifies the diffusion of hydrogen atoms, primarily in unbound water molecules. In the central nervous system (CNS) diffusion is anisotropic, having a preferred direction of free diffusion parallel with axon orientation. Diffusion perpendicular to axons is restricted by boundaries from the axon cell membrane, myelin sheath, and internal structures including neurofilaments and microtubules. Thus, by monitoring the changes in diffusion characteristics within the spinal cord following injury we may deduce the microstructural organization and predict white matter integrity during recovery.

The primary purpose of this dissertation work was to characterize the spatiotemporal changes in diffusion characteristics following spinal cord injury (SCI) using DTI in both a rat model and human participants. This work is the first to completely characterize diffusion throughout the neurologically intact human and rat spinal cord, the first to monitor diffusion changes from the acute through chronic stages of SCI, and the first to investigate functional correlates of spinal cord DTI during recovery.



Restricted Access Item

Having trouble?