March 2018

Grant to study TBI-related lower extremity deficits

Kessler Foundation researchers Kiran Karunakaran, PhD, and Karen Nolan, PhD, have received a $35,000 grant from New Jersey Health Foundation to study the cortical changes in children and young adults with lower extremity motor deficits caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Walking in robotic exoskeletons has been recognized as an effective method for rehabilitation compared with conventional physical therapy for lower limbs due to the device’s ability to assist the user in performing goal-oriented, repetitive movements. The neural mechanism involved in this recovery due to training is still not completely understood. This pilot study will explore the clinical, functional, and neurophysiological effectiveness of robotic exoskeleton–assisted gait therapy for children and young adults with TBI.

“Our hope is that understanding the cortical (brain) activity changes after injury and during recovery will provide us with information to better understand the neural mechanism of learning or recovery and thus help in improving the design and effectiveness of rehabilitation therapy,” said Karunakaran, a postdoctoral fellow in Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation.

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