Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 8 - 2016

Giles Plant, Neurosurgery
Ada Poon, Electrical Engineering

Injury of the cervical spinal cord results in movement impairment, respiratory dysfunction and pain. Recent studies have shown that neurons in the spinal cord are able to regenerate after injury if provided with the correct growth environment. However, reconnection of these regenerated nerve fibers to appropriate target neurons and muscles has been a challenge. Physical therapy rehabilitation in patients following injury has shown some promise in regaining general limb movements but a more limb task (reaching or grasping) focus would be optimal. Our goal is to combine the pro-regenerative strategy of patient-derived stem cell neural grafts transplantation into a cervical spinal cord injury site in combination with selective neural rehabilitation of the motor circuits by using small RF wireless electrical/optical transponders. This approach will strengthen appropriate connections between the brain, spinal cord and the forelimb muscles while reducing inappropriate motor and pain pathways.