Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Ruth Propper

Committee Member

Bing Yao

Committee Member

Jennifer Pardo


The current study is derived from a larger study by Yao et al. (2019) that attempts to understand if Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) is a good diagnostic tool for distinguishing spinal cord injured (SCI) participants from healthy controls from a structural perspective. Additionally, the study aims to determine whether the DTI parameters and the clinical functional scores of the Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM) improve over time for SCI when rehabilitation is implemented. The current study has the same aims but takes Yao’s work further by dividing cervical SCI participants based on the exact location of injury (i.e., upper and lower cervically injured). Significant difference tests found that SCI participants, especially those with upper cervical injuries, differed from their matched healthy controls at baseline when measuring the Axial Diffusivity (AD) and Fractional Anisotropy (FA) parameters, mainly at spinal scanning locations at the site and surrounding the site of injury. Additionally, this remained true when incorporating follow up visits after rehabilitation. Furthermore, within differences showed some gradual increase to normalcy for SCI participants. The AD and FA parameters also correlated strongly with the SCIM functional measures for lower cervically injured participants. The results of this analysis provide inclinations on how DTI is a useful diagnostic tool for SCI and how changes over time structurally and functionally may be dependent on the exact location of injury. In conclusion, the current study promotes the idea that further research needs to be done using the AD and FA parameters on different injury locations on the spinal cord.

File Format


Included in

Psychology Commons