Create a neuroprosthetic device that will re-enable locomotion in paraplegic individuals.
The goal of this project is to create a neuroprosthetic device that will re-enable locomotion in paraplegic individuals. It is well known that the spinal cord of vertebrates contains local networks of neurons that are hardwired to execute various motor “programs”. These circuits, called central pattern generators (CPG), facilitate the sequential activation of muscle groups required to produce complex behaviors such as breathing, chewing, locomoting, and other rhythmic movements. Spinal injury disrupts the descending pathways used by the brain to activate CPGs, but leaves most local circuits intact. Therefore, it may be possible to restore motor function after spinal injury by designing a neuroprosthesis capable of interfacing with and controlling intrinsic CPG networks.