Congratulations to assistant professor Jacob McPherson for earning his second research award this academic year! Jacob just received the 2019 American Heart Association Innovative Project Award. Dr. Laura McPherson, Physical Therapy and courtesy BME is Co-Investigator on the grant.

“Restorative neuroplasticity in brainstem motor pathways to enhance rehabilitation post-stroke.”

The proposal will develop a new paradigm for rehabilitating reaching deficits in the paretic arm of individuals with stroke. The focus is on the inability to extend the elbow when lifting the arm, one of the most common and functionally limiting movement deficits. Many therapies have sought to improve this deficit by increasing neural transmission in brain regions weakened yet spared by the lesion. Unfortunately, this approach has achieved only limited success. The novel proposed idea is to instead weaken overactive brainstem motor pathways that contribute to elbow extension deficits post-stroke. This will be accomplished by utilizing a transformative new neurostimualtion technology that will allow synchronization of peripheral nerve electrical stimulation with elicitation of specific brainstem reflexes. This approach will drive activity-dependent depression of brainstem synapses onto triceps motor pools, thereby increasing an individual’s ability to extend the paretic elbow.