NeuroPlast: Implementation of a novel brain machine interface to restore limb movement and promote recovery from partial spinal cord injury: Basic studies and clinical application.
Spinal cord injury causes alterations in the central nervous system, as well as the sensorimotor and autonomic systems below the injury, and has devastating personal and socioeconomic costs. Although there is currently no cure, new research opportunities offer the prospect of accelerating both our understanding of the disorder, and the design of therapies to promote recovery. I will investigate, in both animal models and patients, a novel rehabilitation technique that consists of a brain-machine interface (BMI) that activates the paralyzed muscles electrically, driven by the subject’s own movement commands. I expect long-term use of the neuroprosthesis (NP) will lead to unprecedented levels of restored movement, while the subject uses the system, and to maintained functional gain, even without the NP, after therapy is complete. This will be possible due to the ability of the nervous system to modify its function (“neural plasticity”), which the NP will exploit.