Rehabcell

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

‘Thought control’ approach used in spinal injury rehabilitation

‘Thought control’ approach used in spinal injury rehabilitation


I’m completely happy to be the guinea pig. I have a selfish vested interest in spinal cord injury because in my lifetime, or in the near future, I want to see a cure. I want to be involved as much as possible both as a doctor and as a potential scientist. So, I think I’m just really lucky to be well-positioned here where it’s all happening. What we’ve been doing actually over the last 25 years is creating these neuro mechanical models. What we’ve done recently is actually make them work in real time and actually to be personalised. So, we’re going to take those models and create a twin of a patient who is a quadriplegic like Dinesh and we will use that model to help us understand how to activate these muscles through stimulation to do rehabilitation on on a bicycle, or a reclined bicycle, which you can use for people who are quadriplegic. And we’re also connecting it to EEG equipment so the patient can actually think about doing this exercise and that will then trigger the model to actually then stimulate the muscles to do this exercise. The whole nervous system is very plastic and it has to be trained and learned. So, actually thinking about it thinking about moving your legs and thinking about doing an activity it stimulates the spinal cord from the top down and that creates change. So, you’re getting the information coming up from below from the periphery but also driven by how they’re thinking about doing it. You use the modeling to make the connection for them and over time with the biologics of James St John’s that will establish these new pathways, the neural pathway, so over time they’ll have been less dependent upon the computer modeling to control it and to move back to their own control with their regenerating spinal cord. It’s very exciting to be a part of this health and knowledge precinct because we are very unique in that geographically we have a cellular hospital and the University right next door to each other and we can have systems in place where research can happen and can be translated quite easily. I think it’s fantastic. My university is doing it, my hospital, my city. It’s just really nice to be a part of that.

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