Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery Dr. Marco Capogrosso was awarded a five-year, $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechologies (BRAIN) Initiative to design and test a system for the electrical neurostimulation of the cervical spinal cord to reduce arm and hand motor impairments in people with severe stroke.
In collaboration with co-principal investigator Douglas Weber, professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and Germany-based neurotech company CorTec GmbH, the Pitt team will develop and test a fully implantable spinal cord neurostimulation system that could be used to control electrical stimulation patterns in real time.
The device developed by CorTec will be designed to specifically target the cervical spinal cord and used to determine stimulation parameters that improve strength and motor control of the arm and hand in patients who are partially unable to move their limbs after a severe stroke.
The researchers seek to obtain regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use the device in clinical rehabilitation settings and to test its efficacy to improve motor control in combination with physical training.
This project follows Capogrosso’s work on spinal cord stimulation showing that electrical stimulation improves arm control in paralyzed monkeys. The Pitt research team is now working to enroll participants in a clinical trial testing spinal cord stimulation to restore arm movement in people with stroke.
— Ana Gorelova