Locomotor Recovery Laboratory
The Locomotor Recovery Laboratory investigates ways to improve locomotor function in individuals who have experienced motor impairments due to stroke or spinal cord injury (SCI). We use an array of experimental techniques and training paradigms to better understand how the inherent plasticity of the central nervous system can be harnessed to improve recovery from neurologic injury. We believe a myriad of factors contribute to a patientís recovery, and our current research investigates many of these potential variables, from molecular markers of neural plasticity to spinal cord circuitry to the impact impaired walking ability has on an individualís ability to participate in his or her community.
Our work is integrative; we focus not only new discoveries, but also translation of these findings into rehabilitative protocols that can be implemented in the clinic. Past work has investigated the mechanisms underlying behavioral changes due to the use of robotics, body-weight-supported treadmill training, and pharmacologic agents, as well as their clinical efficacy. In order to facilitate this type of translational approach, members of the lab come from a variety of educational backgrounds, including physiology, neuroscience, physical therapy, and engineering.
Current research activities in the lab include looking at the acute and chronic effects of intensive locomotor training on endogenous neurotrophins that promote synaptic connectivity; electrophysiological studies of neural mechanisms underlying volitional force generation; pharmacological studies of various drugs and their effects on motor control; and interventional studies that employ task variability and high intensity training in order to maximize recovery of stepping activity in neurologically impaired individuals.