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Intracortical neuroprosthesis to foster motor recovery after SCI

Funder: Craig H Neilsen Foundation

Funding period
USD 296 K
Funding amount
Impairment of voluntary control of movement arises when spinal cord injury (SCI) disrupts the nerve fibers that connect the cortical networks - essential for planning and execution of intentional movements - and the spinal circuits, which generate them. Research from several laboratories supports the idea that residual connectivity and plasticity of corticospinal pathways is pivotal for functional recovery after incomplete SCI (iSCI). A critical question and the focus of this proposal is how can we harness these plastic mechanisms to foster recovery.Background and preliminary work: Therapeutic neuromodulation strategies typically involve continuous stimulation of motor circuits, while the subject is involved in a motor task. Despite increasing the excitability of motor circuits and the yield of motor commands, such tonic unmodulated neurostimulation applied to brain or spinal motor circuits in humans, however, have met with varying degrees of success, since these do not directly enhance coherency between intended movement and spinal output. Over the past months, we have developed a neuroprosthetic strategy that allows cortical motor circuit activity to be manipulated coherently with behavior in the rat. Electromyographic activity from the leg is used to detect muscle patterns that would normally lead to hindlimb flexion. Each detection timely triggers closed-loop intracortical stimulation to enhance the activation of the motor cortex coherently with the locomotor phases. Our preliminary data show that stimulating cortical motor circuits coherently with locomotor phases using closed-loop neurostimulation intervention can allow modifying the motor output in real time and is sufficient for alleviating locomotor deficits after iSCI so that no other rehabilitative or pharmacological therapies are needed in conjunction. Based on these results, we propose the following GENERAL HYPOTHESIS: After iSCI, potentiating corticospinal output with closed-loop neurostimulation intervention will catalyze locomotor recovery. The General Hypothesis will be addressed through two Specific Aims:Aim 1: Determine whether potentiating corticospinal output after iSCI affects locomotor recovery.By using closed-loop stimulation, we will increase corticospinal output 30 min/day during the recovery period after iSCI and assess the impact on locomotor performance by using different locomotor tasks and gait analysis.Aim 2: Determine whether potentiating corticospinal output after iSCI drives corticospinal plasticity.By using a combination of intracortical recording and microstimulation techniques in behaving rats, we will evaluate how our intervention affects spontaneous cortical ensemble activity during locomotion and hindlimb movements’ representation within the motor cortex.Impact: Our experiments will provide the proof of principle that coherent closed-loop corticospinal neuroprosthetic approaches can be used to foster recovery-related mechanisms. (CHN: SCIRTS chn:wdg)
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    1109 Neurosciences

  • RCDC

    Assistive Technology

  • RCDC

    Injury (total) Accidents/Adverse Effects

  • RCDC

    Injury - Trauma - (Head and Spine)

  • RCDC


  • RCDC


  • RCDC


  • RCDC

    Spinal Cord Injury

  • RCDC


  • RCDC

    Physical Rehabilitation




    1.1 Normal biological development and functioning

  • Health Research Areas