Intraspinal Neural Prosthesis for Restoring Function after Spinal Cord Injury

Funding Details
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Grant type: Operating Grant
  • Years: 2013/14 to 2017/18
  • Total Funding: $744,396
Keywords
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No partner organizations found.

Project Summary

We will develop and test a miniature implant that can electrically stimulate the spinal cord after paralysis so that standing and walking can be restored. The implant will be composed of very fine wires, smaller than the human hair that can be placed within the spinal cord in a region below the level of spinal cord injury. All wires will be implanted in a small area of the cord (only 3 cm long) known to contain neural circuits involved in controlling leg movements. In the past, we showed that when this technique was implanted in animals, minute levels of current were needed to produce powerful muscle contractions that could produce standing and walking. Now, we want to prepare this implant for human use. We want to understand how stable this implant can be when placed inside the spinal cord for long periods of time, and also whether the produced movements remain functional for long periods of time. Another thing we want to find out is where exactly, in the spinal cord of humans should the implant be placed so that the best standing and walking can be restored after paralysis. If this spinal micro-implant is found to be safe and capable of generating walking reliably, the results from this project could lead to the first trials of this technique in humans paralyzed because of a spinal cord injury.