Ping Zhou, PhD, has been awarded a $1.83 million grant by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) for the project, “From Fiber to Muscle: A Multifaceted EMG Examination of Motor Unit Function After Spinal Cord Injury.” Dr. Zhou is a professor in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and director of the NeuroMyo Engineering for Rehabilitation Laboratory at TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center. Co-investigator of the study is Argyrios Stampas, MD, an attending physician in the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann and an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School.
“The project is focused on people who have sustained cervical spinal cord injury resulting in tetraplegia with decreased arm and hand function,” Dr. Zhou says. “Their number-one priority is restoring upper-extremity function, but despite their efforts and those of their therapists, deficits in motor control persist. We hope to close this critical gap in our knowledge of the origins of muscle weakness, atrophy and associated changes in intrinsic mechanical properties of paralyzed muscles after SCI.”
The primary aims of the study, which runs from September 2018 through June 2023, are to examine motor unit loss of paralyzed muscle, to examine motor unit control property alterations of paralyzed muscle, and to examine motor unit structural changes of paralyzed muscle.
“Our long-term goals are to develop tailored, innovative treatment strategies to restore motor function based on findings from our examinations of spinal cord injury patients,” Dr. Zhou says. “Given the complex nature of neuromuscular changes after SCI, we hope to accomplish this by performing a broad examination of different motor unit components in the same group of patients.”
Watch for more information as the study progresses.