Collaborative Funding Awards


Jinsook Roh, Ph.D.

University of Houston, Biomedical Engineering

Effects of MEP up-conditioning on the impaired muscle synergy in upper extremity of people after stroke

Dr. Roh’s group designed and developed the wrist force measurement device system to assess how muscle synergies function during 2- and 3-D wrist rotation force generation. The device system had been finalized and tested at Dr. Roh’s lab at University of Houston. Now it is ready to be used for characterizing impaired upper extremity (UE) muscle synergies and how they may change after a successful neuromodulation intervention improves UE motor function in stroke survivors.

The goal is to develop a collaborative R01, R21, or a similar scale grant application to examine UE muscle synergies as potential mechanisms of impaired motor performance and coordination, and how induction of targeted neuroplasticity in the key corticospinal pathway may change impaired muscle synergy characteristics. To work towards this goal, we have planned the following collaborative activities; (1) MEP conditioning will be administered in several stroke survivors at the MUSC EPOC lab; (2) muscle synergy assessments will be administered at the MUSC EPOC lab by trained personnel from Dr. Roh’s lab; (3) muscle synergy analysis will be performed at Dr. Roh’s lab; (4) and study findings will be disseminated by the two groups.


Jing Nong Liang, PT, Ph.D.

University of Nevada, Physical Therapy

Operant Conditioning of Reciprocal Inhibition on Ankle Plantarflexors in People After Stroke

The central hypothesis of our current research is that restoring RI via operant conditioning can improve walking post-stroke. Specifically, we hypothesize that up-conditioning RI on plantarflexors can improve ankle motion during walking, thus improving stroke-impaired gait. Towards examining that, this pilot project aims to obtain the preliminary data demonstrating the feasibility of RI-conditioning and time course of RI changes over the course of up-conditioning. We will also obtain preliminary data assessing functional impacts of RI-conditioning on stroke-impaired gait.

Operant conditioning of RI has been shown to be feasible in rodents, but has not been examined in people with impaired RI due to stroke. By providing the initial results of RI conditioning in people post-stroke, this pilot study will help us develop the RI conditioning protocol for improving stroke-impaired gait. Results of this study are expected to greatly strengthen our planned NIH R03 and/or R21 application on improving post-stroke gait through up-conditioning of reciprocal inhibition.


Ellyn Riley, Ph.D. CCC-SLP

Syracuse University, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Improving Aphasia Outcomes through tDCS-mediated Attention Management
The objective of this project is to determine if tDCS to DLPFC will result in better language recovery. A pilot study using this approach with 11 unimpaired controls showed greater than chance accuracy on a grammaticality judgment task for active tDCS but not sham. See Artificial grammar learning with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): A pilot study for further information. This project aims to test this approach in persons with aphasia.


James Sulzer, Ph.D.

The University of Texas at Austin, Mechanical Engineering

Can RF H-reflex be operantly conditioned?

The long-term goal of this research is to alleviate hyperreflexia of the rectus femoris (RF) in people with Stiff-Knee gait (SKG) following stroke. Operant H-reflex conditioning is a promising remedy for hyperreflexia since it is believed to modulate the supposed cause of hyperreflexia, presynaptic inhibition of Ia afferents. However, there are currently no published studies showing whether operant RF H-reflex conditioning is possible. We hypothesize that healthy individuals can down-regulate RF H-reflex activation compared to baseline performance in a standing posture. We plan to publish the results of this full experiment in a journal publication and use it as pilot data for an upcoming R21 resubmission on application of RF H-reflex down-conditioning to stroke patients with SKG.