Clinical Research at the Center for Spinal Cord Injury

Clinical research at the center is a reflection of the care that we provide to each one of our patients. Through our research we hope to discover new ways to help each one of you reach your greatest potential and develop new improvements to the care that we provide.


  • Activity-Based Restorative Therapy and Electrical Stimulation
    Electrical stimulation is a key component of our activity-based restorative therapy program. Electrodes are placed on specific muscle groups by a skilled therapist. Those electrodes are connected to a machine that sends an electrical signal, which cause muscles to contract. Electrical stimulation is used to practice specific tasks, increase or maintain range of motion, and prevent muscle loss. Our research in this area has focused on studying the impact, effectiveness, and optimal protocols for functional electrical stimulation (FES) and activity-based restorative therapy, as well as transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation and its impact on physical and neurological function.
  • Aquatic Therapy
    Aquatic therapy is a popular program at the Center; we have seen firsthand the potential benefits of aquatic therapy for our patients. In the pool, you are able to escape the limitations of gravity and perform tasks which are difficult or impossible over land. By practicing these tasks in the water, we hope to improve your strength and eventually help you to accomplish performing these tasks on land. Aquatic therapy research focuses on studying and quantifying the impact of aquatic therapy on functional and health-related quality of life outcomes among individuals with paralysis and comparing this to land therapy outcomes.
  • Advanced Imaging
    Everyone who has experienced paralysis has undergone an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) at least once. At the Center we study an advanced imaging process called functional MRI (fMRI). This tpe of MRI can produce maps of neuronal activity at most levels of the spinal cord in response to various stimuli (i.e. touch, vibration, temperature changes, etc.) and with motor tasks. These images can help us study how these circuits of neuronal activity change after traumatic spinal cord injury and after implementation of an activity-based therapy program, in order to understand how different treatment options can be best utilized to maximize patient recovery.
  • Complications of Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis
    Spinal cord injury and paralysis are widely known to cause “secondary complications,” such as pressure sores, urological conditions, spasticity, pain, and osteoporosis. These are common complaints for many people with spinal cord injury or dysfunction. We believe it is important to study the prevalence of these common complications, their individual causes and risk factors, their impact on community engagement and quality of life, and prevention of these complications.
  • Adaptive Sports
    The Center believes adaptive sports and recreation can be integral to recovery and quality-of-life. For many of you, sports and recreation were a regular part of your lives prior to injury or diagnosis; we believe everyone should have the same opportunities even after a disability. Our researchers are studying the use of virtual reality adaptive sporting as a training method and the impact of adaptive sporting on both rehabilitation outcomes and overall quality of life.