Kessler Foundation Press Releases

Dr. Pilkar to Develop Tool for Assessing Muscle Response to Neuromuscular Stimulation

Photo of Dr. Rakesh Pilkar standing with his arms folded and smiling

The New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research awarded a $198,102 grant to Rakesh Pilkar, PhD, of Kessler Foundation, to develop a novel system for assessing muscle response in real time during neuromuscular stimulation procedures in individuals with spinal cord injury

East Hanover, N.J., January 7, 2020. Rakesh Pilkar, PhD, research scientist in the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, was awarded a $198,102 exploratory research grant by the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research to conduct a study titled, “A novel system for quasi real-time tracking of neuromuscular responses during electrical stimulation.”

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation has emerged as a promising technique for promoting functional recovery after spinal cord injury. Interventions that involve voluntary participation are very effective in promoting motor recovery, but research progress is hindered by the lack of tools for monitoring the effects of electrical stimulation on muscles. Understanding the differential contributions of voluntary muscle response and electrical stimulation is especially important when studying individuals with spinal cord injury, according to Dr. Pilkar.

“With previous support from the Commission, we developed a method to isolate artifact-free voluntary as well as stimulation-induced muscle responses from electromyography data collected during electrical stimulation of muscles of individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury,” Dr. Pilkar explained. “With this new grant, we will develop a novel system called SMARTq (Stimulated Muscle Assessment in Real-Time) to monitor the true muscle responses to neuromuscular stimulation in able-bodied individuals and in those with spinal cord injury, complete as well as incomplete. Improving our ability to accurately monitor muscle response in real-time may enable us to tailor stimulation protocols to improve functional outcomes.”

Funded by New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research grant CSCR20ERG013

Related Publications:

Pilkar R, et al. Application of empirical mode decomposition combined with notch filtering for interpretation of surface electromyograms during functional electrical stimulation. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2017 Aug;25(8):1268-1277. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2016.2624763. Epub 2016 Nov 3.

Pilkar R, et al. Validation of empirical mode decomposition combined with notch filtering to extract electrical stimulation artifact from surface electromyograms during functional electrical stimulation. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2016 Aug;2016:1733-1736. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2016.7591051.

About the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Injury Research

The New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research, whose members are appointed by the Governor, was established on September 13, 1999, with the passage of the "Spinal Cord Research Act" by the New Jersey State Legislature. The Commission's mission is to ensure that the people of New Jersey receive the utmost attention and benefit in our nation's fight against spinal cord injury and disease through its promotion of research into the treatment and cure. The Commission was created to encourage and promote significant, original research projects in New Jersey through the funding of approved research projects at qualifying research institutions in the State. In addition, the Commission maintains, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, a central registry of all persons who sustain spinal cord injuries.

About Kessler Foundation 

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

For more information on Kessler Foundation's research, visit
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | SoundCloud

Press Contacts

Carolann Murphy, PA
Senior Staff Writer

Rob Gerth
Director, Communications