Date of Award

Fall 2006

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Schmit, Brian D.

Second Advisor

Ropella, Kristina M.

Third Advisor

Clough, Anne


The broad objective of this research is to determine the nature of cortical reorganization after spinal cord injury (SCI) and ultimately, to identify the relationship of the reorganization to the morphology of the injury. Following an incomplete SCI, rehabilitation of motor function likely involves plasticity of both spinal and supraspinal structures, as different parts of the central nervous system adapt to new sensory and motor conditions. The pattern of cortical reorganization after SCI has been largely unexplored in humans and there has been little research into how sensorimotor plasticity may be affected by the extent and location of the injury, particularly with regard to the extent that specific sensory and motor spinal tracts are compromised. Better morphological descriptions of the injury and of the resulting reorganization will allow for targeted rehabilitation strategies to be developed that will take advantage of the reorganization process. This process is likely to be of ever increasing importance as new techniques of spinal tract repair continue to develop.



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