SEMINAR: Recovery of Function After Spinal Cord Injury Using Epidural Stimulation

Dr. Susan Harkema
When Oct 19, 2017
from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM
Where Shumaker Research Bldg, Room 139
Contact Name
Contact Phone 852-7485
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Abstract: A number of observations have suggested that considerable, highly functional automaticity remains within the spinal locomotor circuitry of humans. Thus, the underlying hypothesis of the present experiment was that the human spinal locomotor circuitry has sufficient automaticity potential to generate postural control and rhythmic, coordinated weight bearing stepping and that we can recruit this locomotor and postural circuitry with a tonic epidural stimulation of selected lumbosacral segments. In other experiments we studied how the spinal sensory-motor pathways associated with posture can be modulated when different stimulation parameters are applied. We also assessed how the spinally evoked responses to different stimulation parameters are modulated in the presence of different patterns of cutaneous and proprioceptive input to the spinal cord circuitry that is functionally isolated from the brain. These results have important implications with respect to: 1) how postural spinal networks can be selectively modulated by varying the stimulation frequency, 2) the impact of proprioceptive input and how and which pathways can be modulated with epidural stimulation, and 3) identifying strategies that are likely to be most efficacious in enabling improved motor function for standing after complete paralysis.

Speaker: Susan Harkema, Ph.D., is a Professor and Associate Scientific Director for the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, a Director at Frazier Rehab Institute and a Directory of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation’s Neurorecovery Network. Dr.  Harkema comes to UofL from Michigan State University where she earned her B.S and Ph.D. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Harkema’s research focuses on understanding neural mechanisms responsible for human locomotion and the level of plasticity -- or the ability to change and recover -- after neurologic injury. She and her colleagues developed an intervention called locomotor training that re-teaches walking by providing sensory cues for the neural circuitry of the spinal cord to recognize and promote better muscle patterns for walking. The results of these studies contribute to the knowledge about the fundamental mechanisms that control human locomotion


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