Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Robotic Training to Facilitate Upper Extremity Motor Function in Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury: A Feasibility Study

Lumy Sawaki, MD, PhD, University of Kentucky, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Department, Cardinal Hill Endowed Chair

The purpose of this pilot project is to gather sufficient data to allow clarification of methodological issues prior to designing a full-scale clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of tDCS to optimize UE motor function after incomplete SCI. 

Our central hypothesis is that application of active tDCS to the UE corticomotor area in combination with intensive motor training will lead to greater improvement of UE motor function than will sham tDCS and motor training for subjects with incomplete SCI. Furthermore, the degree of this behaviorally measured effect will correlate with the pattern of cortical reorganization measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

The long-range goals include (a) maximizing the restoration of UE motor function for incomplete SCI patients, (b) collecting solid preliminary data for future submission of an NIH R01 proposal, and (c) determining the impact on activities of daily living and quality of life.

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