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"Ceren Yarar-Fisher, P.T., Ph.D."
Ceren Yarar-Fisher, P.T., Ph.D.

In the first clinical trial of its kind, researchers hope to discover whether following the ketogenic diet will help patients with acute spinal cord injuries regain sensory and motor functions faster than those who do not follow the diet.

Ceren Yarar-Fisher, P.T., Ph.D., assistant professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has received an R01 grant to study the effects of the ketogenic diet on neurorecovery in individuals with acute spinal cord injury, or SCI. The five-year, $2 million grant is funded by the National Institutes of Health and will last through 2024. This study is the first randomized human clinical trial on this topic in the United States.

Yarar-Fisher and her team will aim to determine whether engaging in the ketogenic diet for five weeks compared to consuming a standard diet will improve motor and sensory function, functional independence and glycemic control in patients with acute SCI. According to Yarar-Fisher, there is accumulating evidence in SCI animal models that diet-based therapies, such as the ketogenic diet, offer effective neuroprotection against secondary injuries and improve forelimb motor function. However, this has not previously been evaluated on patients with SCI.

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