Patterned FES Ergometry of Arm and Shoulder in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

Principal Investigator: Cristina Sadowsky

Recent evidence suggests that FES can improve certain functions in the Central Nervous System (CNS) following injury or disease; it can enhance motor recovery, change H reflex and flexor reflex excitability [1-3]and enhance sensory function in chronic SCI [4].

Using FES-based therapies in our clinic, we have seen neurological, physical, and functional improvements. By systematically measuring the impact of FES on functional recovery in individuals with spinal cord related paralysis, we hope to greatly advance our clinical application of FES.

To test the hypothesis that patterned neural activity induced by FES enhances recovery of function in the injured spinal cord patients with paralysis.

A randomized, controlled, single-blinded, in-subject controlled (A-B type) trial will be performed in patients with SCI receiving an upper extremities non-FES assisted exercise protocolcompared with patients receiving upper extremities ergometry in combination with FES. Neurological and functional outcome measures will be obtained at baseline (time 0), after first 4 months of intervention (4 months), after 1 month washout (5 months), after second 4 months of intervention (9 months), and 3 months after completing the last intervention (12 months).

The studies proposed here will rigorously test the efficacy of FES-based restorative therapies in promoting neurological and functional recovery in patients with SCI. These findings will be applied in a clinical setting to optimize the FES-based therapies.

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