Blair Calancie – Biography
Born in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada).
PhD (Kinesiology) from Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC [Canada]) under Parveen Bawa
Post-docs in Edmonton (Dick Stein) and Uppsala Sweden (Karl-Erik Hagbarth).
1988 – moved to Miami FL (Neurological Surgery/Miami Project to Cure Paralysis)
2001 – moved to Syracuse NY (Neurosurgery; Upstate Medical University)
Married with 4 children.
Main Expertise: Clinical Neurophysiology
My lab has two main areas of research interest:
1. Spinal cord injury (SCI)
2. Intraoperative neuromonitoring during surgery
Spinal Cord Injury
We’ve been working to develop a better understanding of how the human spinal cord changes after injury (known as ‘plasticity’). This information has allowed us to:
1. show that some nerves in the human spinal cord are able to grow and make new connections to other nerves post-injury All of this takes place caudal to (i.e. ‘below’) the injury and does not provide any benefit to the patient. In fact it’s probably a contributor to a major problem after SCI: autonomic dysreflexia (which we’re currently studying in detail).
2. develop more sensitive tests to predict spontaneous, long-term recovery after injury, important for evaluating the efficacy of new treatments.
3. show that physical training, using techniques including exercise and magnetic brain stimulation, can help improve function even years after spinal cord injury in some persons. We also have an animal project underway to develop a surgical treatment for cauda equina injury. This type of injury accounts for up to 20% of all hospital admissions for spinal cord injury, yet it has received almost no attention to date.
This involves the testing of nerve and muscle function while a patient is having surgery to the brain, spinal cord, or structures that place the CNS at risk (such as repair of certain blood vessels; thyroid resection, etc). This testing is designed to prevent the patient from waking up worse than before surgery, by giving the surgeon early warning of anything that might be damaging nerves, beforethat damage becomes permanent. Testing can also be used to help distinguish between nerve and surrounding tissue, in cases where normal anatomy is lacking (e.g. around a tumor, or where there’s a large amount of scar tissue). Our more recent work – funded by an R01 grant from NIH – is designed to lower the incidence of improper placement of pedicle screws in the thoracic spine.