Scientific interests in the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Lab are in the development and implementation of neurophysiological methods that measure motor and autonomic output from the central nervous system for use in clinical research to examine recovery from spinal cord injury. Our further interest is to prepare these techniques for use in assessing the effects of new intervention strategies as they emerge from basic science testing. The focus of this work is the study of the functional impairment of respiratory and cardiovascular systems after spinal cord injury and the effects of new rehabilitative strategies including locomotor training, respiratory muscle training and epidural stimulation of the spinal cord.
CARDIOVASCULAR PULMONARY RESEARCH
The Cardiovascular Pulmonary Research Core investigates the effects of respiratory muscle training on blood pressure regulation in individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). Respiration plays an important role in blood pressure regulation by mechanically supporting the venous return to the heart and participating in autonomic function.
Pulmonary insufficiency is a common problem among individuals with SCI due to paralysis, muscle weakness and/or spastic contractions of the muscles involved in respiration. Respiratory motor control can be improved by training respiratory muscles. This therapeutic intervention is being investigated as a tool to improve blood pressure regulation in individuals with SCI.
Research has already demonstrated that Epidural Stimulation can restore the ability to voluntarily control leg movements below the injury level. The major goal of our Cardiovascular and Pulmonary research is to demonstrate that Epidural Stimulation can also be used to recover significant levels of autonomic control of cardiovascular and respiratory function.
Funding: The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation/Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
The major goal is to restore motor function and quality of life in patients with spinal cord injury using epidural stimulation and locomotor training therapies.
The overall aim of this study is to examine the effects of respiratory muscle training on blood pressure regulation in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury.
This clinical study is designed 1) to evaluate the effectiveness of respiratory muscle training on improving respiratory motor control and blood pressure regulation in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury and 2) to investigate the mechanisms of such effects.
Funding: National Institute of Health