This Bioengineering Partnership brings together a multidisciplinary team of neuroscientists and engineers with complementary expertise in neural organization of the spinal cord (Dr. David McCrea, University of Manitoba), biomedical engineering and neuromuscular stimulations (Dr. Michel Lemay, Drexel University), physiology and biomechanics of locomotion (Dr. Boris Prilutsky, Georgia Institute of Technology), and computational neuroscience and neural control (Dr. llya Rybak, Drexel University). The goals of this project are (1) to perform a comprehensive multidisciplinary study of neural mechanisms in the mammalian spinal cord responsible for generation of the locomotor pattern and control of locomotion and (2) to find optimal strategies for restoring locomotor function after spinal cord injuries. In this project, two comprehensive databases will be created based on experimental studies of fictive locomotion in the decerebrate cat and on biomechanical studies of freely moving uninjured cats and spinal cats. These databases will be used for the development of (1) a computational model of neural circuitry of the spinal cord responsible for generation and control of the locomotor pattern and (2) a neuro-musculo-skeletal model of cat's locomotion. Special quantitative biomechanical criteria will be developed for evaluation of locomotor capabilities of spinal cats during and after implementation of different treatments for restoring the locomotor function. The computational models and biomechanical criteria developed will provide guidance for the applied treatments and evaluation of their results. Different strategies for the restoration of locomotor capabilities based on the combination of locomotor training on a treadmill with phase-dependent electrical stimulation of the selected sensory afferents will be implemented and investigated. The results of this project will provide significant insights into spinal mechanisms responsible for control of locomotion and will represent an important step toward the development of optimal and effective methods for restoration of locomotor function after various spinal cord injuries.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-K (50))
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Chen, Daofen
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Drexel University
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