Kessler Foundation researcher to develop novel system for monitoring neuromuscular responses

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. 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.

Dr. Rakesh Pilkar, research scientist in the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation

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