Mechanisms of Hyperexcitable Reflexes in Adults with Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Renee Theiss, Governors State University

Dr. Renee Theiss is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy in the College of Health and Human Services.

Description

Chronic traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) presents with common, yet individually variable, neuromuscular sequelae corresponding to the location, extent and severity of the injury. Along with weakness, pain and spasticity, hyperexcitable reflexes is one of these commonly observed symptoms. My research agenda aims to investigate the mechanisms of this hyperexcitability with the goal of expanding the tools available to reduce the negative impact of spastic reflexes on physical function and everyday participation. To evaluate the contribution of neuronal electrochemical mechanisms underlying this spasticity, my research is translational—using the results from basic science studies with animal subjects to guide the investigations in human subjects with chronic SCI. For example, my recent studies used available medications to probe the contribution of animal research-discovered cation currents (Na+ & Ca++ PICs) to particular features of hyperexcitable reflexes in human SCI. (These studies were funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.) My research also evaluates the effectiveness of physical interventions to reduce spasticity in adults with chronic SCI. For example, my team evaluated the effects of therapeutic stretching, a common intervention included in a physical rehabilitation therapy session, on reflex excitability in adults with chronic SCI. Additional studies related to addressing spasticity in people with neurological injuries have been proposed and are currently seeking funding and collaborators.

 
Apr 1st, 10:55 AM Apr 1st, 11:10 AM

Mechanisms of Hyperexcitable Reflexes in Adults with Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

D34000

Chronic traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) presents with common, yet individually variable, neuromuscular sequelae corresponding to the location, extent and severity of the injury. Along with weakness, pain and spasticity, hyperexcitable reflexes is one of these commonly observed symptoms. My research agenda aims to investigate the mechanisms of this hyperexcitability with the goal of expanding the tools available to reduce the negative impact of spastic reflexes on physical function and everyday participation. To evaluate the contribution of neuronal electrochemical mechanisms underlying this spasticity, my research is translational—using the results from basic science studies with animal subjects to guide the investigations in human subjects with chronic SCI. For example, my recent studies used available medications to probe the contribution of animal research-discovered cation currents (Na+ & Ca++ PICs) to particular features of hyperexcitable reflexes in human SCI. (These studies were funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.) My research also evaluates the effectiveness of physical interventions to reduce spasticity in adults with chronic SCI. For example, my team evaluated the effects of therapeutic stretching, a common intervention included in a physical rehabilitation therapy session, on reflex excitability in adults with chronic SCI. Additional studies related to addressing spasticity in people with neurological injuries have been proposed and are currently seeking funding and collaborators.