Sten Grillner, Dept. of Neuroscience Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Stimulation of our “natural rhythm of walking” to assist walking

Funded in: 2009, 2010

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Autonomic, special neural circuits in the spinal cord, called central pattern generators (CPGs), can produce automatic movements without input from the brain. These circuits have a highly specific and complex structure that is altered after a spinal cord injury. Specific rehabilitation programs on treadmill with the assistance of physiotherapists or machines (locomat) can reconstitute (“awaken”) the central pattern generators, but this training process currently takes a long time – a substantial and costly effort for the PT staff and hard work for the SCI individual. The objective of this program is to discover which chemical modulators could accelerate or even enhance this CPG “awakening” rendering the rehabilitation programs shorter and more effective.