A Computational Approach to the Design of Spinal Neuroprostheses
Severe Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) alters the communication between supra-spinal centers and the sensorimotor networks coordinating limb movements, leading to motor paralysis. Epidural electrical stimulation of lumbar segments has shown the ability to enable descending motor control of the lower limbs in rodents and humans with severe spinal cord injury. Using a combination of computational models and in-vivo experiments, I’ve found that EES facilitates motor control through the recruitment of muscle spindle feedback circuits. I’ve then used these models to design stimulation protocols targeting these circuits that allowed selective modulation of synergistic muscle groups, both in rodents and primates. This framework supported the design of brain controlled stimulation strategies that restored voluntary locomotion in primates with incomplete spinal cord injury. I am now expanding these models to design new technologies for the restoration of functional arm movements in people with cervical spinal cord injury.