The Spinal Cord Injury Research Program investigates ways to help people living with paralysis regain the ability to move, including epidural stimulation or use of robotic leg braces.

Epidural stimulation to enable volitional movement after chronic complete paralysis

In the program's study on epidural stimulation to regain movement, people with complete paralysis of the legs resulting from spinal cord injuries are implanted with epidural stimulators — devices commonly used to treat pain.

The study aims to replicate promising findings from the University of Louisville and the University of California, Los Angeles. In combination with intense rehabilitative therapy (locomotor therapy or activity-based therapy), stimulation from the epidural stimulator allowed some intentional movement of participants' previously paralyzed legs, and participants were able to stand unassisted.

Replicating this breakthrough in spinal cord injury treatment is only one step in advancing the science of epidural stimulation. Further research is critically needed to understand why epidural stimulation has worked, which patients will respond to epidural stimulation, and whether the enormous amount of rehabilitation that has been shown to be effective can be reduced.

Mobility and therapeutic benefits of exoskeleton use

The Spinal Cord Injury Research Program at Mayo Clinic is part of a multisite study in which participants with paralysis train with robotic leg braces (exoskeletons) for eight weeks to gain the ability to walk or to improve their ability to walk.

Participants' ability to walk is tested both in the clinical setting and at home in the community. For participants who have partial paralysis, their ability to walk without the exoskeleton is measured before and after training.

The exoskeleton utilized in this study is unique because it features electrical stimulation to the paralyzed muscles, allowing each participant's body to do some of the work.

TESS-ESS Characterization after SCI

The study seeks to improve the scientific understanding of how two electrical stimulation techniques, one which delivers electricity to the skin surface over the spine (transcutaneous electrical spinal stimulation—TESS) and another which is implanted onto the dura mater of the spinal cord (epidural electrical stimulation—EES), facilitate spinal circuitry to enable function after SCI.

A Study to Evaluate LIFT System to Deliver Non-invasive Electrical Spinal Stimulation

The purpose of this study is to provide confirmatory evidence that use of the LIFT System, inclusive of all components and accessories, is safe; to provide confirmatory evidence that use of the LIFT System provides an effective treatment for the restoration or improvement in UE strength and function; and to provide data regarding the potential benefits of the LIFT System to achieve other secondary outcomes such as improvement in pain, spasticity, quality of life, cardiovascular (blood pressure) and autonomic function.

A Study to Compare Epidural and Dorsal Root Stimulation in Spinal Cord Injury Patients

This study compares electrophysiologic activity of epidural stimulation and dorsal root ganglion stimulation, as well as quantify changes in motor performance with both types of stimulation over the course of 10 rehabilitation sessions.

Epidural Stimulator Survey

This is a study for patients with implanted epidural stimulators, ages 18 or older. The purpose of this study is to understand the long-term effects of epidural spinal stimulation at home and in the community.

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