The Travis Roy Foundation has awarded a research grant of $374,266 to Jason Carmel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Motor Recovery Laboratory at the Burke Medical Research Institute. The three-year grant will support research in Dr. Carmel’s lab to investigate the effects of combined brain and spinal cord stimulation on recovery of arm and hand function.
Previous research in Dr. Carmel’s lab, also supported by the Travis Roy Foundation, has found that electrical brain stimulation can strengthen residual brain-spinal cord connections after injury. In rats, brain stimulation was shown to help restore movement after both acute and chronic injury.
In the new study, researchers will characterize the physiological, behavioral, and anatomical effects of cervical spinal cord stimulation alone and in combination with brain stimulation. They believe that the two treatments will act synergistically by strengthening brain signals reaching the spinal cord and increasing the responsiveness of the spinal cord to these signals. According to Dr. Carmel, this will be the first study to 1) combine brain and spinal cord stimulation and 2) use spinal stimulation to target recovery of arm and hand function, a top priority of people with quadriplegia.
The Travis Roy Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the life of individuals with spinal cord injuries and to finding a cure for paralysis through increased funding of research. The Foundation offers individual grants for adaptive equipment to help recipients regain independence, and research grants to fund cutting-edge research.