Biophysics and Physics Professor Chris Meiners has been awarded the prestigious Divers Alert Network (DAN) Hamiltion Dive Medicine Research Research Grant. The grant will be used to fund his research in the mechanics of gas bubble formation and dissolution in spinal cord tissue.
His work will involve compressing and rapidly decompressing spinal cord tissue inside magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to induce bubble formation and then identifying tissue damage that may arise. The goal of these experiments is to test the hypothesis that the growing bubbles do not just elastically deform but mechanically tear the spinal cord tissue, leading to damage that cannot be resolved by treatments that focus on bubble dissolution alone.
The data will be interpreted in elastic and fracture models and may be used to improve recompression treatment for decompression sickness (DCS) in the spinal cord. Greater knowledge of the mechanisms at play in spinal cord DCS could alter our understanding of the condition and introduce new possibilities for future treatment and prevention.