The spinal cord comprises of a dense and distributed network of neurons that is capable of controlling, modulating and executing specific and discrete motor tasks. Injury to the spinal cord results in devastating sensory and motor dysfunctions.
In our laboratory, we investigate the role of spinal neuronal networks – either partially or completely independent of input from the brain – in the performance of sensory-motor tasks such as walking, reaching, grasping, or maintaining posture in the laboratory rat.
We also study the impact of different training regimens in the recovery of sensory and motor function after paralysis. It has long been known that combinatorial therapies that involve motor learning are far more effective for recovery of function than singular interventions. By using a combination of electrical stimulation and rehabilitation training regimens, we facilitate neuronal activity and modulate the functional state of the spinal cord for optimal hand and leg motor functions.
We adopt a variety of methodologies including behavioral assessment (cutting edge technologies such as 3D Motion Analysis), electrophysiological evaluation (electromyography, spinal evoked responses, cortical recordings) and histochemistry (immunohistochemistry, imaging techniques) in the rodent model of spinal cord injury to achieve our research objectives.
Our research has direct implications in the development of novel motor rehabilitation strategies after motor dysfunction in persons with neurological disorders.