The Movement Recovery Lab receives $175,000 Grant from Travis Roy Foundation

June 26, 2020


The Movement Recovery Lab at the Weinberg Family CP Center, led by Jason Carmel, MD, PhD, has recently been awarded a grant to continue its research into a clinical trial. The lab will receive an additional $175,000 next year from the Travis Roy Foundation for “Optimizing paired brain and spinal cord stimulation: a key step to restore arm and hand function in people with central nervous system injury.”

The goal of the grant is to optimize the dose and pattern of paired electrical stimulation in order to prepare for a clinical trial in people with cervical spinal cord injury. In the past three years, and thanks to the generous continued support of the Travis Roy Foundation, the Movement Recovery lab has made substantial progress in understanding how paired brain stimulation with spinal cord stimulation strengthens muscle responses. The lab has used rats to identify the motor connections from the brain and the sensory connections in the spinal cord that enable effective pairing, and have shown that paired stimulation improves forelimb function in rats with SCI. The lab has also tested spinal cord stimulation in people undergoing spine surgery for cervical stenosis and have found similar augmentation of muscle responses in people compared with rats. In particular, the location of the spinal cord stimulation is key, and locating electrodes over the sensory nerves as they enter the spinal cord is most effective. 

We use the ‘language’ of the nervous system, which communicates via electrical impulses, to help repair it. By repeatedly stimulating the brain and spinal connections important for skilled arm and hand movement, we seek to improve dexterity in people with impaired function.

 Dr. Carmel also mentions, the project hopes to, in the long-term to provide the logic for where and how to electrically stimulate the nervous system to strengthen the weak connections that exist in people with cerebral palsy and other debilitating conditions.

The Travis Roy Foundation was established in 1997 and is dedicated to enhancing the life of individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families by providing adaptive equipment and to finding a cure through increased funding of research, resulting in self-reliance and the ability to be as independent as possible.

Read more about this project.