Congratulations to Jacob McPherson, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, who has received a 5-year R01 funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for $1.6 million! The title of the grant is, “Intraspinal microstimulation for multi-modal rehabilitation.”

Spinal cord injury (SCI) often results in motor impairments and neuropathic pain. These conditions are related to changes in neural activity in regions of the spinal cord that control motor output and sensory processing. Generally, there is too little neural transmission in spinal motor pathways below the lesion, whereas there is excessive, inappropriate neural transmission in pain pathways below the lesion.

It has previously been shown that delivery of small amounts of electrical current directly to motor regions of the spinal cord can increase neural transmission in motor pathways. This type of spinal stimulation is called therapeutic intraspinal microstimulation. Over time, intraspinal microstimulation can enhance motor recovery after SCI.

The overall hypothesis of this proposal is that intraspinal microstimulation for motor rehabilitation can be designed to simultaneously reduce transmission in spinal pain pathways. If support for the hypothesis is obtained, this proposal will have identified a new rehabilitation strategy that addresses two critical unmet needs of the SCI population: non-opioid treatments for SCI-related neuropathic pain and multimodal rehabilitation. It would also overcome a key limitation of clinically available spinal stimulators, which are parameterized for treatment of motor or sensory impairments alone.