1. Spinal Stimulation ‘sit to stand’ after SCI: STIM2STAND
Research Team: Principal Investigator (PI) Dr Lynsey Duffell, Prof Nick Donaldson, Dr Sarah Knight, Dr Yazi al Joboori
Locations: University College London, RNOH Stanmore and Neurokinex, Watford
Duration/Dates/Cost: 36 months/April 2017-April 2020. Total project costs: £222,957
ABSTRACT OF RESEARCH
The majority of traumatic spinal cord injuries do not completely sever the spinal cord. Even in people classified as ‘motor complete’, some residual connections usually remain but evidently these fibres are not functionally useful. For many years it was believed that a non-functioning central nervous system could not be reawakened, however we now have evidence to the contrary. People with motor complete spinal cord injuries were able to voluntarily move their paralysed limbs when electrical stimulation was applied over their spinal cord to excite the central nervous system. Amazingly, during their first session with stimulation, some of these individuals could even stand up!
‘Having watched individuals with complete spinal cord injuries stand for the first time with the application of electrical stimulation to their spines, I am extremely excited about the potential impact of this project. Electrical stimulation is already used routinely in most spinal injury centres in the UK for exercise and pain management. Applying stimulation over the spinal cord is perhaps even simpler than these current uses, and the technology required not only already exists, but is widely accessible to the SCI population. This INSPIRE Foundation research will allow us to trial this technique for the first time in people living with SCI in the UK, and will provide us with important insight into the potential recovery that one could expect from regular use of spinal stimulation. This will lead to larger UK-wide studies that can be initiated without delay due to the simplicity and accessibility of the technique. Spinal stimulation can also be applied to enable function in the upper limb and, in the future, could be used at home to assist with standing and other activities of daily living. This would substantially impact quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury.‘
Dr Lynsey Duffell