8. SCI Pain Predict

Electroencephalograph predictors of central neuropathic pain in subacute SCI PAIN PREDICT

Research Team:  (PI) Dr Aleksandra Vuckovic, Dr Mariel Purcell

Locations:  University of Glasgow & Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit

Duration/Dates/Cost:  36 months / Jan 2020 – Jun 2022                                  Total project costs:  £190,988

Abstract.  Central Neuropathic pain (CNP) in people with spinal cord injury (SCI) is often unresponsive to pharmacological treatments. Our recent study revealed that certain electroencephalographic (EEG) markers of CNP are present before people develop pain. Based on these makers we previously developed a predictor of CNP in people with subacute SCI that has accuracy of 86%. Now, in this phase II pilot project, we want to validate the predictor on a larger number of people with SCI and produce software applications that will make it usable with standard EEG equipment used in NHS Neurophysiology Departments. Early diagnosis of CNP would be a prerequisite for prophylactic treatments. In addition, we aim to test the feasibility of EEG as both a longitudinal CNP monitoring biomarker and a drug response biomarker using a novel wearable EEG device in patients’ homes as a step towards creating stratified pain treatments.

Outcome. The main outcome of this project will be a robust method to predict CNP before the appearance of its physical symptoms, including sensory discomfort and excruciating pain. Vulnerable people with SCI and at risk of developing CNP, could be then advised on prophylactic treatment with an existing CNP medicine. The project will also provide first steps towards creating a quantitative tool for assessing the effectiveness of preventive and curative treatments of pain, based on inexpensive and available technologies.