Press Releases & Announcements

Danbury Hospital to Host Symposium on Spinal Cord

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - Danbury, CT

Researchers from the world renowned Miami Project to Cure Paralysis will discuss promising new developments in the treatment of spinal cord injuries at a medical symposium hosted by The Spine Center at Danbury Hospital on Friday, February 6.

Barth A. Green, M.D., co-founder and chairman of the Miami Project, and W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., its scientific director, will focus on ground-breaking research, treatment protocols and other interventions that are providing new hope to people with spinal cord injuries.
Hundreds of people from the medical and rehabilitation communities are expected to attend.

“A spinal cord injury is one of the most feared injuries anyone can imagine sustaining, and on many levels the prognosis may seem hopeless,” said David Kramer, MD, co-director of The Spine Center at Danbury Hospital. “Yet, through research being conducted at the Miami Project, we are on the verge of embarking on human trials of new protocols and new drugs that will help to promote the healing of these types of devastating injuries.”

The Miami Project is the world’s largest, most comprehensive spinal cord research center, located at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. An international team of 200 scientists, researchers and clinicians are involved in laboratory and human clinical trials that take innovative approaches to managing spinal cord injuries.

Kramer said research being conducted by the Miami Project herald a new era in the treatment and management of spinal cord injuries. “It’s reassuring and invigorating to hear that we are beyond the laboratory stage and at a point where we have drugs, implants and strategies on the verge of becoming more available nationwide,” he said.

Danbury Hospital has invited an estimated 300 people from hospitals and institutions throughout Connecticut to attend the symposium, including orthopedic spine surgeons, neurosurgeons, emergency medicine physicians, emergency medical personnel, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation specialists, physiatrists and others.

As a regional medical facility and university teaching hospital engaged in high volume complex spinal surgery, Danbury Hospital provides an ideal venue for bringing the Miami Project researchers and Connecticut’s medical community together to discuss innovations in the field, said Kramer. The Spine Center at Danbury Hospital has earned a reputation for treating complex spine cases, including revision surgery, scoliosis correction and treatment of spinal cord injuries.

Among the topics to be discussed at the symposium:

  • Neuroregeneration research aimed at promoting the regrowth and repair of nervous system tissue. These techniques include tissue implants, new drugs that foster regeneration and healing, and the use of devices such as spinal cord bridges which allow nerves to grow across the injured area.
  • Neuroprotection techniques to slow the propagation of injury and preserve levels of function. These techniques include hyperthermia or the rapid cooling of the central nervous system following a catastrophic spinal cord injury. Some experts credit hyperthermia, in part, with the miraculous recovery of Buffalo Bills player Kevin Everett, who sustained a spinal cord injury while playing football. Research suggests cooling the nervous system may reduce spinal cell damage.
  • Rehabilitation studies aimed at designing and evaluating therapies that focus on retraining the nervous system to improve motor function. These techniques have the potential to improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries.

An internationally recognized spinal cord injury expert, Green’s research interests lie in the development of methods to surgically prevent further neurological deterioration and to promote neurological recovery in the chronic spinal cord injury patient. Green and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti helped found the Miami Project after Nick’s son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game.

Dietrich has led the Miami Project team since 1997 with the goal of accelerating the translation of new laboratory findings to clinical studies involving humans. Dietrich’s research examines the pathobiology and treatment of central nervous system injuries. By understanding the injury process that occurs after a spinal cord injury, scientists hope to develop therapies to prevent the progressive damage that occurs in the hours, weeks and months after an injury.

Kramer expects the symposium will have a lasting impact on community health. “Our goal is to increase awareness and disseminate information regarding state-of- the-art treatment for spinal cord injuries—information that could potentially help people who would otherwise face a life of paralysis,” he said.

About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with New York Medical College, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital provides centers of excellence in cardiovascular services, cancer, weight loss surgery, orthopedics, digestive disorders and radiology. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management. Medical staff members are board certified in their specialties.

Danbury Hospital is ranked in the top 5 percent of hospitals in the country for overall clinical performance by HealthGrades®, a leading independent health care rating organization. It is the only health care facility in Connecticut ranked among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationwide for overall clinical performance four years in a row.

In the area of orthopedics, Danbury Hospital ranks in the top 5 percent in Connecticut for joint replacement by HealthGrades®.

Additional information is available at
For more information about The Miami Project, visit