SCI Research Programs
After suffering a SCI, maintaining blood pressure is often a challenge. We are studying how SCI disrupts normal blood pressure regulation. The benefit of medications to keep blood pressure in the normal range while sitting is being evaluated. We believe that keeping blood pressure normal while seated upright should help maintain brain blood flow and improve thinking in persons with SCI.
After SCI, adverse changes occur in soft tissue body composition, which are associated with disorders of carbohydrate (e.g., sugar) and cholesterol metabolism. These disorders in metabolism predispose to microvascular dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Strategies are being considered to reduce insulin resistance
Having a SCI frequently results in difficulty with bowel evacuation. Our investigators are testing a dual medication combination whose novel delivery is being tested through the skin (e.g., transdermally via iontophoresis) to improve routine bowel care. How exoskeletal-mediated ambulation alters colonic motility is also being assessed using high resolution manometry methodology.
Individuals with SCI usually have residual nerve connections, even if they do not have conscious control over these neural pathways. We are utilizing sophisticated approaches to identify these spared nerve pathways. To strengthen spared nerve pathways, different combinations of physical exercises, magnetic stimulation, and electrical stimulation are being employed in an effort to improve function.
Lack of mobility and accessibility makes exercising quite difficult for persons with SCI. Our investigators are studying exoskeletal-assisted walking as a form of exercise and mobility. The impact regular walking in these devices has on health and quality of life in persons with paralysis from SCI is also being investigated.
High thoracic and cervical level spinal injuries are associated with respiratory muscle weakness and impaired ability to cough effectively and/or to exhale forcefully. To reduce the tendency to retain secretions and to have a higher susceptibility to pulmonary infections, pharmacologic and mechanical interventions are being investigated to increase respiratory muscle strength and the ability to forcefully cough.
In persons with tetraplegia, to maintain a constant body temperature is a challenge, even when exposed to small changes in temperature. Our investigators are studying the responses of the body and their effect on thinking to mild changes in environmental temperature under carefully controlled conditions in a thermal testing room. Drug and non-drug interventions, to assist the body to keep temperature in the normal range, are being tested.