As clinical and basic scientists our aim is to apply understanding of the neurobiological control of walking, the effect of injury on neuromuscular control, and activity-dependent plasticity to develop and test therapeutic interventions that promote recovery of walking and postural control after neurologic injury.
Locomotor training is an “activity-based therapy” with its roots in basic science and then translated into a rehabilitation intervention. Such evidence has demonstrated the role of the spinal cord in controlling walking and the capacity of the neural circuitry to respond to repetitive task-specific afferent to generate activation of the neuromuscular system below the level of neurologic injury.
Locomotor training targets recovery of pre-morbid movement patterns for walking as opposed to the historical and current use of compensation (e.g. bracing, functional electrical stimulation) as a solution to sensorimotor deficits post-injury and achievement of functional goals.
Scientists addressing walking recovery after neurologic injury are addressing a continuum of research including: muscle degeneration and regeneration, pairing neurophysiological approaches with training, developing outcome measures, expanding the populations served, assessing mechanisms for change, and evaluating behavioral change and in both experimental models (animal research) and the human condition (post spinal cord injury, stroke, and other neurological conditions).