Spinal Cord Injury Studies

Participate in Studies at Shepherd Center

See the list below to learn more about current spinal cord injury clinical trials and studies at Shepherd Center.

To be considered for participation in current and future research studies, complete and submit our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Intake Form.

View details of this study at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Principal Investigator: Edelle Field-Fote, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Study Description: For many people with spinal cord injury (SCI), the goal of walking is a high priority. There are many approaches available to restore walking function after SCI; however, these approaches often involve extensive rehabilitation training and access to facilities, qualified staff, and advanced technology that make practicing walking at home difficult.

For this reason, developing training approaches that could be easily performed in the home would be of great value. In addition, non-invasive brain stimulation has the potential to increase the effectiveness of communication between the brain and spinal cord. Combining motor skill training with brain stimulation may further enhance the restoration of function in persons with SCI. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine if moderate-intensity, motor skill training can improve walking-related outcomes among persons with SCI and to determine if the addition of non-invasive brain stimulation will result in greater improvements in function compared to training alone.

To participate in this study, you must:

  • Be 18 – 65 years of age
  • Have a chronic SCI (≥12 months post-injury) at or above the level of T10
  • Have a motor-incomplete injury (ASIA Impairment Scale C or D)
  • Be able to stand (with the aid of an assistive device if needed) for at least 5 minutes
  • Be able to advance each leg independently for at least 3 steps
  • Be able to rise from sit to stand requiring no more than moderate assistance from one person

This study is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

Contact: Nicholas H. Evans, MHS, CEP, at 404-350-7742 or nicholas.evans@shepherd.org

Principal Investigator: Edelle C. Field-Fote, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Study Description: Arm strength, functional capabilities, and self-care and fine motor activities will be evaluated to determine how changes in these measures relate to each other. Manual muscle tests and three questionnaires (the Capabilities of Upper Extremity Questionnaire (CUE-Q), and the modified Spinal Cord Injury Functional Index (SCI-FI) and Assistive Technology (SCI-FI/AT) short forms) will be used for these evaluations.

Identifying a few key actions critical to performing tasks independently could help prioritize goals of activity-based exercise programs, and comparing task completion with and without assistive devices will help to separate the impact of adaptive equipment on performance of UE activities. You will receive up to $45 total.

To participate in this study, you must:

  • Be a current inpatient
  • Have had a traumatic cervical SCI
  • Have at least minimal movement in your arm
  • Have injury level between C1 and C8
  • Be available for follow-up
  • Be at least 15 years of age

This study is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

Contact: Cathay Furbish, PT, at 404-350-7591 or cathy.furbish@shepherd.org

View details of this study at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Principal Investigator: Edelle Field-Fote, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Study Description: The ability to voluntarily move the ankles is important for walking. After spinal cord injury (SCI), this ability is impaired because of changes in the communication between the brain, spinal cord, and body. Whole body vibration (WBV) is a treatment that increases voluntary muscle control and decreases uncontrollable muscle movement in people with SCI. The purpose of this study is to understand how WBV can impact ankle control and uncontrollable muscle movement.

To participate in this study, you must:

    • Be 18 – 65 years of age
    • Have a SCI level of T12 or above, occurring more than 6 months ago
    • Have motor-incomplete severity classification (AIS C or D)
    • Have self-reported spasticity in at least one ankle
    • Have a score of at least 2 indicating at least moderate spasticity on the Spinal Cord Assessment Tool for Spastic Reflexes (SCATS) clonus test in at least one ankle
    • Have the ability to voluntarily move at least one ankle
    • Must be able to stand and take at least 4 steps with or without assistive devices

    This study is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

    Contact: Jasmine Hope, BS, at (404) 350-3113 or jasmine.hope@shepherd.org

    Principal Investigator: Anastasia Zarkou, PT, MS, PhD

    Study Description: Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) results in hand and arm function impairments and decreased independence in performance of daily activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, writing or typing. Recent approaches that involve the application of non-invasive brain stimulation have the potential to strengthen the remaining connections between the brain and the spinal cord for improved hand function. Combining brain stimulation with performing upper limb functional tasks may further increase the ability of individuals with tetraplegia to use their hands. The purpose of this study is to investigate if “random noise”, a special type of brain stimulation that most people cannot feel, can be used to enhance upper limb function in individuals with spinal cord injury.

    To participate in this study, you must:

          • Be between the ages of 18 – 65 years old
          • Have a chronic cervical SCI (≥12 months post-injury)
          • Have self-reported functional limitation in at least one upper limb
          • Ability to voluntarily move thumb or index finger of one upper limb
          • Ability to voluntarily move wrist in both UE

    Contact: Anastasia Zarkou, PT, MS, PhD, at 404-603-4200 or anastasia.zarkou@shepherd.org

    View details of this study at ClinicalTrials.gov.

    Principal Investigator: Edelle Field-Fote, PT, PhD, FAPTA

    Study Description: In people with spinal cord injury, spasticity can limit muscle control and cause pain, discomfort, and frustration. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation has been shown to reduce spasticity after SCI. However, this type of stimulation’s effects during prolonged, at-home use has not been well studied. Additionally, traditional stimulation techniques are often only available in the clinic. Therefore, this study aims to identify if wearable intensive nerve stimulation decreases spasticity in the legs of people with SCI, and if this intervention is usable and desirable to individuals with SCI.

    To participate in this study, you must:

          • Ability to voluntarily move wrist in both UE
          • Be 18 – 65 years of age
          • Have a spinal cord injury at cervical or thoracic level of at least 6 months in duration
          • Have therapist-reported and self-reported spasticity in at least one lower extremity
          • May use prescription oral (taken by mouth) medications for control of spasticity

    Contact: Marissa Mirecki, MS, OTR/L, at 404-603-4611 or marissa.mirecki@shepherd.org