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Neural Plasticity Laboratory

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male research scientist director at Kessler Foundation

Gail Forrest, PhD
Laboratory Director

Our goal is to unify the collective endeavors of a network of Foundation scientists and external partners, and through this collaboration, advance neuromodulation research to restore function and mobility and transform care of individuals who have experienced paralysis due to spinal cord injury.

 

Areas of Focus

Gail Forrest, PhD, directs the Neural Plasticity Laboratory, part of the Tim and Caroline Reynolds Center for Spinal Stimulation where she is also director at Kessler Foundation. The Lab team works collaboratively with over 30 internal and external partners – from neuroscientists and engineers to surgeons and cardiologists – to investigate the impact of transcutaneous and epidural spinal stimulation and brain stimulation on gains in motor control, function and secondary complications for individuals paralyzed by spinal cord injury (SCI).

Spinal cord injury disrupts motor and sensory pathways as well as the autonomic nervous system that regulates heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, balance, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. The team strives to ameliorate these secondary complications on sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous system functions that individuals with SCI often encounter. Team researchers review how state-of-the-art technologies – bilateral magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, muscle biopsies, and electromyography – measure impact and aim to understand how stimulation of the brain and spinal cord affects recovery.

Future directions include gaining a better understanding of the associated mechanisms, further optimization of stimulation parameters, coordinating the multisystem effects of neuromodulation, and enhancing knowledge of its benefits and limitations.

 

Current Funding Support

Tim and Caroline Reynolds
Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
Department of Defense
Joseph and Cheryl Marino Family Foundation
The Carson Family Charitable Trust