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Ryan Coady, Director of Neurosurgery Community Relations

502-407-3032 – work
502-852-2334 – fax
ryan.coady@louisville.edu

University of Louisville Dept. of Neurosurgery
Frazier Rehab & Neuroscience Bldg.
220 Abraham Flexner Way, Suite 1115
Louisville, KY  40202

The UofL Department of Neurosurgery is constantly working to make a difference in the lives of its many patients and their families. One example is a groundbreaking project that offers new hope for paralyzed people worldwide, with results showing that four men once told they would never move their legs again are regaining movement. Although the research is still ongoing, it is cause for hope for the 1.3 million Americans with spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Susan Harkema, a Professor in the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery, is heading the work that also involves others at UofL, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology in Russia.

Patients who were completely paralyzed below the chest are now able to reach a standing position, supplying the muscular push themselves. They can remain standing, and bearing weight, for up to four minutes at a time (up to an hour with periodic assistance when they weaken). Aided by a harness support and some therapist assistance, they can make repeated stepping motions on a treadmill. They can also voluntarily move their toes, ankles, knees and hips on command.

These unprecedented results were achieved through continual direct epidural electrical stimulation of the subjects' lower spinal cords, mimicking signals the brain normally transmits to initiate movement. Once that signal is given, the spinal cord’s own neural network is able to direct the muscle and joint movements required to stand and step with assistance on a treadmill.

Through your generous support of the UofL Neurosugery dept., our research team receives the resources they need to help patients like these. To learn more about giving to UofL Neurosurgery, please contact Ryan Coady, Director of Neurosurgery Community Relations, at 502-407-3032 or ryan.coady@louisville.edu