Research topics: cervical spinal cord injury, nerve and spine surgery

Ida Fox, MD, is nationally and internationally known for her work to restore hand and upper extremity function in the setting of cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Her primary research interests highlight and build upon this clinical work. She has established the protocol for the peri-operative testing and counseling of people considering nerve transfer surgery in this setting. This novel application of a well-established technique — peripheral nerve transfer surgery — to improve upper extremity and hand function in people with cervical level SCI may significantly expand treatment options in this arena.

Fox’s multidisciplinary research team is dedicated to the following goals:

  • Further defining surgical candidacy and clinical outcomes
  • Assessment of perceptions of these interventions
  • Development and testing of a surgical decision aid comparing nerve and tendon transfer to no surgery (see images)
  • Outreach and education of health care providers, people with SCI, and the communities in which they live

A U.S. Department of Defense Grant funds her research work. The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation funded her research in the past.

In addition, Fox collaborates in research across medical specialties such as:

  • Chest wall reconstruction and left ventricular assist device salvage with Cardiac Surgery
  • Hand and upper extremity infections with Infectious Diseases
  • Safe removal of implantable contraceptive devices with Obstetrics-Gynecology
Figure 1: This schematic illustrates the advantages and disadvantages that people with cervical level spinal cord injury may consider when choosing between nerve and tendon transfer surgery.
Figure 2: Decision aids help individuals take into account their own preferences and values when choosing between treatment options. Dr. Fox is working with her research team as well as Health Literacy Media to develop and test a decision aid for people with cervical SCI who are interested in potential upper extremity surgical reconstruction.