Restorative Neurology of Upper Extremity Function in Tetraplegia

COURSE 3, American Spinal Injury Association 40th Anniversary Meeting, Chicago, 6 May, 2013

Restorative Neurology of Upper Extremity Function in Tetraplegia: Neurobiology, Assessment, Clinical Research, and Novel Treatment

Monday, May 6, 2013 . 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. . Room: Zurich E, F, G

Course Chair: Keith Tansey, MD, PhD, Crawford Research Institute, Shepherd Center, Emory University School of Medicine SCI
Clinic, Atlanta VA Medical Center, Atlanta, GA


Barry McKay, BS, Shepherd Center, Atlanta, GA, John Kramer, PhD, Shepherd Center, Atlanta, GA, Justin Brown, MD, University of California San Diego, CA

Educational Objectives:

  •  ldentify neurobiological issues impacting function unique to tetraplegia
  •  Describe methods to assess and follow motor control using poly-EMG
  •  ldentify important features of clinical study design specific to tetraplegia
  •  Appreciate a neurosurgical option to recover motor control in tetraplegia


Tetraplegia, with its associated compromise of upper extremity and hand function, affects about half of all individuals with spinal cord injury. Interventions designed to generate neurological recovery in these patients are limited and poorly understood. This symposium will explore the neurobiological basis of upper extremity compromise in tetraplegia and describe a method that can be used to assess, characterize, and follow that dysfunction through treatment and recovery in neurophysiological terms. The symposium will then address how clinical study in tetraplegia should be designed to reconcile the neurobiological challenges of this injury with the practicalities of conducting meaningful clinical trials in tetraplegia. Finally, the symposium will present a novel neurosurgical approach designed to re-establish upper extremity motor control in tetraplegia by linking supraspinal centers with infra-injury muscle function.

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