Spinal cord injury causes alterations in the central nervous system, as well as the sensorimotor and autonomic systems below the injury, and has devastating personal and socioeconomic costs. Although there is currently no cure, new research opportunities offer the prospect of accelerating both our understanding of the disorder, and the design of therapies to promote recovery. I will investigate, in both animal models and patients, a novel rehabilitation technique that consists of a brain-machine interface (BMI) that activates the paralyzed muscles electrically, driven by the subject’s own movement commands. I expect long-term use of the neuroprosthesis (NP) will lead to unprecedented levels of restored movement, while the subject uses the system, and to maintained functional gain, even without the NP, after therapy is complete. This will be possible due to the ability of the nervous system to modify its function (“neural plasticity”), which the NP will exploit.
My Ph.D. thesis, finished this year, belonged to the emerging field of neural engineering. It spanned the design and validation, in human patients, of a NP for treating upper limb tremor, and the study of the physiology of tremors by decoding the neural drive to muscle. The studies proposed in this project constitute an unmatchable opportunity for me to develop critical neuroscience, neural engineering, and clinical skills, which will broaden my current competencies in these areas. I will also receive training on management, tutoring, teaching, proposal writing and ethics, which will allow me to assume the expected multiple roles of a researcher. Finally, I expect that this project will allow me to broaden my network of collaborations. On this the basis, I anticipate that my reintegration to Europe will allow me to effectively transfer the skills acquired, establish my research line and a group of collaborators, thus setting the basis for a mature research career.
Field of science
- /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/physiotherapy
- /humanities/philosophy, ethics and religion/ethics
- /social sciences/educational sciences/pedagogy/teaching
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology
- /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/physiology
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology/neuroscience
Call for proposal
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