Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS's portrait
Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS
Professor of Neurosurgery
Vice Chair Research, Department of Surgery
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON
Dr. Fehlings is a member of the SpineUniverse Editorial Board.

About Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Dr. Michael Fehlings is the Vice Chair Research for the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and Co-Director of the University of Toronto Spine Program. Dr. Fehlings is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, holds the Gerry and Tootsie Halbert Chair in Neural Repair and Regeneration, a Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and a McLaughlin Scholar in Molecular Medicine. In the fall of 2008, Dr. Fehlings was appointed the inaugural Director of the University of Toronto Neuroscience Program. In 2014, he was elected to the Fellowship of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Fehlings combines an active clinical practice in complex spinal surgery with a translationally oriented research program focused on discovering novel treatments for traumatic and non-traumatic forms of spinal cord injury. He has published over 900 peer-reviewed articles chiefly in the area of spinal cord injury and complex spinal surgery. Dr. Fehlings leads a multi-disciplinary team of researchers examining novel approaches to repair and regenerate the central nervous system. He is also a principal investigator in the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation North American Clinical Trials Network, President of the International Neurotrauma Society, Chair of the AO Foundation Clinical Investigation and Documentation Advisory Committee, and leads several international clinical research trials.

Dr. Michael Fehlings has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Gold Medal in Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (1996), nomination to the Who's Who list of the 1000 most influential scientists of the 21st century (2001), the Lister Award in Surgical Research (2006), the Leon Wiltse Award from the North American Spine Society for excellence in leadership and/or clinical research in spine care (2009), and the Olivecrona Award (2009) from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden (known as the "Nobel Prize of Neuroscience") for his important contributions in spinal cord injury. In 2012, he received the Reeve-Irvine research medal for his work on spinal cord injury. In 2013, he was honored by the North American Spine Society with the Henry Farfan Award for outstanding contributions in spine related basic science research. He was also honored in 2013 with the H. Richard Winn Award from the Society of Neurological Surgeons, which is the highest honor for academic neurosurgeons in North America, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal presented by the Honourable Stephen Harper. In 2019, the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, presented him with the Ryman Prize for his work enhancing the quality of life for older people, as well as the Vilhelm Magnus Medal for his contributions to the neurosurgery field.

Dr. Fehlings is active in many medical societies and journal editorial boards, including Journal of Neurosurgery (Past-Chairman Editorial Board) and Spine where he holds the position of Deputy Editor.

Dr. Fehlings is a member of the following associations:

  • AANS-CSN Section on Disorders of the Spine
  • American Academy for the Advancement of Science
  • American Academy of Neurological Surgery
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
  • American College of Surgeons
  • Canadian Association for Neuroscience
  • Canadian Medical Association
  • Canadian Neurosurgical Society
  • Cervical Spine Research Society
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS)
  • International Neurotrauma Society
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research
  • National Neurotrauma Society
  • North American Spine Society
  • Scoliosis Research Society
  • Society of Neurological Surgeons
  • Society for Neuroscience


To see a full list of Dr. Fehlings' publications, please visit his PubMed listing.

Articles Written by Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Spinal Cord Injury Center

Spinal cord injury involves much more than damage to the spinal cord. After the primary injury, a cascade of secondary events can occur.

A Promising Future: Spinal Cord Injury Clinical Trials and Drug Therapy Update

Spinal cord injury clinical trials and information about innovations in medication therapies, cellular transplantation, spinal cord stimulation, and robotic devices.

Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury's Secondary Injury Cascade

Within a few hours after spinal cord injury, a series of changes called the secondary injury cascade begins and may continue months past the initial SCI.

Diagnosis of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Diagnosing traumatic spinal cord injury may begin at the scene by first responders and emergency medical technicians.

Spinal Cord Injury Classification and Syndromes

Spinal cord injury is classified by type and severity. The American Spinal Injury Association or ASIA impairment grading system is a diagnostic tool doctors utilize to classify SCI.

Complications After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Common spinal cord injury-related complications include local and systemic types of disorders. While people with SCI are living longer, complications can hurt quality of life.

Spine Surgery After Spinal Cord Injury: Why Timing Matters

Decompression spine surgery soon after a spinal cord injury can be beneficial and improve long-term functional and sensory outcomes.

Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Prognosis: What You Need to Know

The first 48 hours following traumatic spinal cord injury are critical to a patient’s prognosis; their sensory and functional outcomes.

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: What to Expect

Rehab after a spinal cord injury can be challenging, but you are not alone as several specialists will help reduce your pain and improve your function.

Regaining Your Quality of Life After Spinal Cord Injury

How doctors measure quality of life after spinal cord injury, and factors that may improve or harm QOL.

Steps to Prevent Complications Following Spinal Cord Injury

New research highlights ways to avoid complications following a spinal cord injury, as well information on recovery expectations.

Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures

Spinal cord injury facts and figures for 2019 include the top five causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries, lifetime costs and life expectancy.

Spinal Cord Injury: Inside the Fehlings Laboratory for Neural Repair and Regeneration

Dr. Michael Fehlings takes SpineUniverse inside his research lab and talks about his lab's areas of focus in spinal cord injury.

Spinal Cord Injury: Nerve Regeneration and Stem Cells

Learn about the research being conducted at the Fehlings' Lab for neural repair and regeneration.

The Role and Timing of Decompression in Acute Spinal Cord Injury

Abstract concerning conservative care and preventive measures of acute spinal cord injury.

Case Studies Presented by Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Unsteady Gait and Pain in Upper Limbs: Which Approach Is Best?

Presented by: M. Fehlings MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS
Spine case presented by Michael G. Fehlings, MD: a 61-year-old male autoworker has progressively worsening gait, motor dysfunction, and pain in upper limbs. How would you treat this?

C6-C7 Unilateral Facet Dislocation with Right C7 Radiculopathy

20-year-old Male PMVA
Presented by: M. Fehlings MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS
The patient is a 20-year-old male who present after a rollover MVA. He struck his head on the car roof in rotation. He complains of right arm pain, numbness, and mild weakness. Should he be reduced right away?

Traumatic Sacral Fracture with Neurological Impairment

Presented by: M. Fehlings MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS, A. Ibrahim MBBS, PhD, FRCS
The patient is a 55-year-old woman with a history of osteoporosis, schizophrenia, and Hepatitis C. She presents with ongoing buttock pain that is severe, and indicates increased incontinence (over 2/52).

Articles Reviewed by Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Are Regenerative Therapies the Future of Spinal Cord Injury Treatment?

Current spinal cord injury treatment is limited to rehabilitative and mitigation approaches, but regenerative therapies may be the way of the future, says Michael Fehlings, MD, PhD.

Whiplash Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Whiplash is the term for a neck sprain or strain resulting from hyperextension and hyperflexion of the head and cervical spine. Neck pain may travel into the upper back and shoulders.

When to Use Neuromonitoring in Spine Surgery

When should you use neuromonitoring in spine surgery and what type is best? Get expert answers here.

Could This Drug Be the Next Big Thing in Back Pain Treatment?

New medications such as tanezumab may provide options for treating back pain. Is it available? Is it effective? Is it right for you? Learn more about tanezumab for back pain.

Docs Must Take the Lead in Prioritizing Surgery

As societies around the world continue to contend with social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic, spine specialists will have to wrangle with prioritizing canceled surgeries. Dr. Michael Fehlings is studying the most efficient ways to do so.

Can IBS Cause Back Pain?

Can IBS cause back pain? How are the two related? What are the treatments for IBS—and can those therapies help ease discomfort in your back? Find out here.

Neural Progenitor Cell Transplantation in Spinal Cord Injury

Michael G. Fehlings, MD, explains this research aimed to optimize neural progenitor cell transplantation in SCI and translational medicine as a driver for new spinal cord injury interventions.

Spine Fellowships Should Include Boot Camps and Simulations in Training

Surgical specialty training boot camps were identified as one of the best strategies to maximize opportunities in spine surgery fellowships.

Riluzole May Protect Against Ischemia Reperfusion Injury During Spinal Decompression Surgery

Addition of the sodium glutamate antagonist riluzole when decompression surgery is undertaken results in better long-term improvements in forelimb function in cervical spondylotic myelopathy animal models than surgery alone.

Pretreatment May Unlock the Regenerative Potential of Neural Stem Cells in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Pretreatment with the bacterial enzyme Chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) improves the regenerative outcome of neural stem cells in the chronically injured spinal cord.

First Case of Spontaneous Spinal Cord Herniation Resolution Reported

The first case of spontaneous resolution of spinal cord herniation was reported in the September issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery. Resolution occurred during an approximately 1-year period.

Implications of the Aging Population on Spine Surgery

With the global population undergoing an upward shift in its age structure, clinicians are required to manage a growing number of spinal disorders specific to the elderly.

Cervical Excitatory Neurons Rescue Breathing After Spinal Cord Injury

Researchers discovered a novel neuronal circuit involving cervical excitatory interneurons that, when activated, rescue breathing after severe spinal cord injury.

Spinal Tumors: Descriptive Overview

Spinal tumors are rare. However, when they develop the foremost symptom usually is back pain.

Electrical Stimulation Offers Hope for People with Severe Spinal Cord Injury

Electrical stimulation is giving new hope to people with severe spinal cord injury. Study showed young men with paraplegia were able to move their legs on their own with the help of electrical stimulation of the spine.

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