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Our goals are to use pharmacology, chemogenetic tools and electrical stimulation to rewire neuronal circuitry spared by an injury to the nervous system. This rewiring will then be translated into functional recovery and stabilized by rehabilitative training.
The restoration of standing and walking after neural injury or disease has the benefits of improving muscle and skin properties, joint health and bone density, and cardiovascular and pulmonary function. The ability to walk again is also one of the main desires of people with neural injury or disease.
Intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS) is a novel electrical stimulation technique pioneered in our laboratory for restoring mobility. The approach uses very fine, hair-like wires to stimulate the “control centre” for standing and walking in the spinal cord. The microwires are implanted in a relatively small region of the cord (about 5 cm) and patterned stimulation through these wires can generate coordinated muscle contractions in the legs. These contractions produce balanced standing and walking. This is a large project focused on assessing the long-term functionality and benefits of ISMS, its effects on spinal cord and muscle health, and its clinical translation.