The primary research thrust of the Neural Prosthetics Laboratory (NPL) is to develop novel and translational neural prosthetic approaches and implantable devices in order to restore function in people with neurological disabilities resulting from injuries to the central nervous system, as in spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and stroke. At the same time, we aim to increase our knowledge about the role of the spinal cord and the cerebellum in motor coordination and sensory-motor integration. One of our current projects involves the extraction of volitional signals from the descending fiber tracts of the spinal cord. The goal is to utilize these signals in spinal-cord-injury patients to allow them to control a robot arm to perform daily activities. The lab has also developed micro-devices that are activated by a near-infrared light beam for wireless neural stimulation in parts of the central nervous system where tethered electrodes cannot be implanted. We have demonstrated in an animal model that evoked potentials collected from the cerebellar cortex can provide a reliable metric to monitor the progression of brain injury following head trauma. We are now investigating the effects of DC electric currents as a treatment option for cognitive disorders in animal models
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