Approximately 250,000 Americans currently suffer from spinal cord injury or disease, which can cause paralysis and other deteriorations in quality of life. Our project's objective is to build a prosthetic device that has potential to help Spinal Cord Injury patients regain their ability to control their body's movements and, in particular, their ability to walk. Multiple labs have shown that it is possible to evoke walking patterns in the spinal cord directly, via electrodes that stimulate the surface of the spinal cord. Additionally, stimulating the cord electrically at certain cites have been shown to increase or decrease the speed of walking patterns. These studies have potential to be incorporated into a multiple-electrode prosthetic that can evoke and control walking output directly from the spinal cord, bypassing injury sites that block commands from the brain. Our proposed work uses a biocompatible, conformable array of electrodes that can activate walking output when stimulating electrically the surface of the mammalian spinal cord (we use the neonatal rat spinal cord as our model). Our proposed experiments are designed to identify optimal multi-site locations on the spinal cord surface that, when electrically stimulated at low amplitudes and frequencies, initiate and control spinal cord locomotor (i.e. walking) output. Identification of such sites and stimulation patterns is necessary to our overall objective of creating a multi-electrode, implantable prosthetic for restoration of walking capability in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MDCN-K (50))
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Peng, Grace
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Georgia Institute of Technology
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
United States
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