A neurorehabilitation platform to discover and develop neuroprosthetic therapies in the rodent
Recovery of movement after a spinal cord injury starts in the brain.
Two-thirds of spinal cord injuries are not complete, meaning some connections and voluntary movement remain. In such cases, the nervous system can partially recover movement over time. Activity-based therapy helps retrain the brain to control movements, like walking or reaching for a cup of coffee. However, many long-term issues often continue.
‘Neuroprostheses’ are medical devices that aid and improve rehabilitation by supporting the nervous system, often through stimulation of motor centers. Our lab works on the initial discovery phase of new neuroprosthetic treatments, testing them on rodents as the first step towards future clinical technology.
Our main focus is helping people with tetraplegia regain hand and arm function. To create new treatments targeting the brain, we’re building a neurorobotic platform in rodent models of spinal cord injury. Similar to human rehabilitation centers, this system trains rats to reach and grasp objects, using neurostimulation of their motor centers to enhance movement performance. With 3D cameras and muscle sensors, it then allows to precisely evaluate immediate and long-term effects of neuroprosthetic treatments for recovering arm and hand movement.
This platform will help develop therapies targeting the brain and its motor commands to effectively promote recovery after incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Marco Bonizzato , Polytechnique Montreal
Partners and Donors
Barbara Turnbull Foundation for Spinal Cord Research