NMPT Translational Research Programs

Motor Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

A well-integrated group of prominent investigators with expertise in both animal models and clinical practice investigates the potential of complementary therapeutic strategies to promote motor recovery following SCI. In specific, scientists investigate the potential of locomotor training and activity-dependent plasticity to restore walking after SCI and the neural substrates associated with recovery. Parallel studies are being pursued in clinically-relevant spinal contused rats, thoracic spinal-injured cats, and persons with incomplete SCI.

Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Cortical Plasticity

A large group of NMPT faculty central to the research efforts of the MBI and VA BRRC study the pathophysiology and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury and stroke. NMPT faculty are particularly interested in the study of cortical and spinal plasticity in the mature central nervous system following stroke. Two rehabilitation interventions central to these efforts are constraint-induced therapy and locomotor training. There also is a strong emphasis on the use of adjunctive drugs and stem cell replacement therapies in human neurological disease.

Respiratory Rehabilitation

A superb group of neuroscientists and respiratory physiologists, along with physical therapists and muscle physiologists work together to enhance respiratory function after cervical SCI or in other clinical conditions requiring ventilator-assisted breathing. This group investigates the role of the cerebral cortex and central reflex pathways in the behavioral control of breathing, mechanisms underlying spontaneous, partial respiratory motor recovery following cervical SCI, spinal plasticity induced by rehabilitative training, the cellular mechanism responsible for muscular atrophy in respiratory muscles, and muscle and neural adaptations during mechanical ventilation.

Inactivity, aging and muscle dysfunction

A group of nationally recognized muscle physiologists, biomechanist, physical therapists and molecular biologists work together to examine the pathophysiology of muscle dysfunction in a variety of conditions including disuse, aging, mechanical ventilation, central nervous system injuries, and neuromuscular diseases. Therapeutic strategies to ameliorate loss of muscle function or to enhance recovery in these conditions include pharmaceutical targets (protease inhibitors and antioxidants), progressive resistance training, locomotor training, gene transfer (IGF-I, SDF) and stem cell therapies. A number of investigators also examine the phenomenon of muscle damage in healthy, unloaded, senescent and dystrophic muscles.

There is considerable cross-fertilization between the different translational research groups with both faculty and trainees participating in multiple research partnerships. View a description of the research activities of each of the Faculty Mentors.