Contact: Gail Forrest
Gail F Forrest, Ph.D., associate director of Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, is also Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers – New Jersey Medical School. As a postdoctoral fellow at Kessler Foundation Research Center in 2002, Dr Forrest was awarded grant funding by the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research to investigate locomotor training (LT) using body weight support with manual assistance for individuals after Incomplete SCI. Over the last 6 years Dr Forrest has continued to receive state and federal funded grants concentrating on the neuroplasticity, improvement in secondary consequences and restoration of function for individuals after SCI. She has presented and published extensively in the area of neuroplasticity and musculoskeletal changes for individuals after SCI. Dr Forrest has other key interests in the area of biomechanics as related to modeling algorithms for under standing control mechanisms in upper extremity (i.e. arm reaching after stroke), and postural control during locomotion. All her areas of research are ultimately focused towards the improvement of functional mobility. Currently, she is combining exoskeletal-assisted walking with external electrical stimulation of the spinal cord toward potentially promoting voluntary muscle firing and independent walking. Neuroimaging of the spinal cord is used to assess how the combination therapy can strengthen connectivity of the pathway between the brain and injured spinal cord and how the improved connectivity explains gains in walking and balance function. Participants are scanned at the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation to analyze changes in spinal cord connectivity after the treatment.