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ARRA Investments in Rehabilitation Research


Public Health Burden
Over two million people experience a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord injury each year in the United States. Survivors of these and similar conditions often suffer from debilitating cognitive and/or mobility impairments that significantly lower quality of life. Rehabilitation research is developing new approaches to remediate or prevent the consequences of disease and injury, improving health outcomes and quality of life for millions of Americans with disabilities.

Basic Science Research in Regenerative Medicine
Basic science research is critical for better understanding tissue plasticity and regeneration following injury.  ARRA-funded grants are exploring basic mechanisms of cell regeneration and adaptation to enhance the ability to recover from injuries or disorders that destroy or severely impair tissue.
  • Scientists are examining how certain animals can continue to develop skeletal and nervous tissue post-embryonically.  Understanding this process may help in the ongoing pursuit of therapies that can induce regeneration of lost or dysfunctional tissue.1
  • To advance the field of regenerative medicine, an ARRA grant is expediting research that uses an insect model to determine if differentiating cells can be coaxed to reverse their paths.2
  • An ARRA grant is enhancing resources for a network supporting genomic and proteomic research in medical rehabilitation.3
  • Researchers are examining the molecular basis of muscle wasting in an animal model, to help design clinical strategies that can delay or reverse muscle loss.4
Pharmacological Treatments
ARRA-funded researchers are exploring new pharmacological treatments for tissue loss and/or dysfunction.
  • Several researchers are working collaboratively to investigate how drug treatment and treadmill training together impact muscle loss, recovery, and function in two animal models of muscle loss.5
  • Another grant is aiding completion of a study on folic acid’s effects on recovery after nervous system injury, such as spinal cord injury.6
  • Cell death following traumatic brain injury (TBI) may lead to significant functional impairments. Scientists are evaluating a combination treatment strategy to reduce TBI-induced cell death.7
Exercise, Motor Training, and Stimulation Therapies
ARRA funds are paving the way for better rehabilitation outcomes using new strategies for exercise, motor training, and stimulation therapies to improve mobility in patients with a variety of conditions.
  • Scientists are evaluating whether noninvasive magnetic brain stimulation, when combined with a current form of motor learning training, improves hand function and rehabilitation outcomes in children paralyzed on one side of their body.8
  • To improve outcomes following stroke, researchers are determining whether non-invasive electrical brain stimulation can enhance motor training of stroke survivors 9 and whether a novel electrical stimulation treatment reduces post-stroke shoulder pain.10
  • Researchers are conducting a clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of tailored trunk exercises in patients with lower back pain.11
  • To improve treatment outcomes, scientists are developing new models to help clinicians develop a treatment plan for crouch gait, a common movement abnormality in cerebral palsy. 12
  • Through a small business grant, researchers are developing a computer-based therapeutic program for children with cerebral palsy to improve their gait and balance.13
Assistive Technology
Technological advancements provide promising avenues for addressing impairments when treatment interventions have been elusive or suboptimal. A variety of ARRA-funded grants are developing and evaluating such technologies.
  • Researchers are developing technology that will allow paralyzed individuals to reach and grasp objects using their own brain signals.14
  • Scientists are developing a more natural and accurate hand neuroprosthesis that has touch and pressure sensors that can transmit signals to the brain.15
  • Through an ARRA grant, robot-assisted mobility (use of small power wheelchairs) is being assessed for its impact on cognitive, perceptual, and social development in infants with severe spina bifida.16
  • Because pressure ulcers can dramatically affect quality of life and healthcare costs of wheelchair users, researchers are systematically studying tilt, recline, and other power wheelchair settings to determine their effects on pressure ulcers.17



  1. 1R15HD060021-01 -- Continual addition of posterior tail segments, regeneration and Hox gene expression -- Vaglia, Janet Lynn (IN)
  2. 3R01HD052937-03W1 -- Cellular plasticity in the Drosophila spermatogonial stem cell niche -- Matunis, Erika L. (MD)
  3. 3R24HD050846-05W1 -- Integrated Molecular Core for Rehabilitation Medicine -- Hoffman, Eric P. (DC)
  4. 3R21HD055286-02W1 -- Androgen-Mediated Reversal of Muscle Wasting -- Widmer, Charles G. (FL)
  5. 1P01HD059751-01A1 -- Therapeutic Strategies to Augment Muscle Rehabilitation -- Vandenborne, Krista H. (FL)
  6. 3R01HD047516-04W1 -- Folic Acid Enhances Repair Mechanism in the Adult CNS -- Iskandar, Bermans J. (WI)
  7. 7RC1HD064758-01 -- Combination drug treatment to inhibit multiple cell death pathways after TBI -- Faden, Alan Ira (DC)
  8. 1RC1HD063838-01 -- Pediatric Hemiplegia: Synergistic Treatment using rTMS and CIT -- Carey, James R. (contact), McLaughlin, John Francis (MN)
  9. 1R21HD060999-01 -- Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Motor Training in Chronic Stroke -- Edwards, Dylan J (NY)
  10. 1R01HD059777-01A1 -- Electrical Stimulation for Hemiplegic Shoulder Pain -- Chae, John (OH)
  11. 2R01HD040909-06A2 -- Mechanisms of specific trunk exercises in low back pain -- Henry, Sharon M. (VT)
  12. 2R01HD033929-09A1 -- Biomechanics and Correction of Crouch Gait -- Delp, Scott L. (CA)
  13. 1R41HD061155-01
  14. 1RC1HD063931-01 -- Cortical Control of an Assistive Robotic Arm -- Donoghue, John P. (RI)
  15. 1RC1HD063390-01 -- Sensorized Neural Prosthetic -- Nicolelis, Miguel A.L. (NC)
  16. 1R21HD058937-01A1 -- Robot-Assisted Mobility for Infants with Severe Spina Spina -- Galloway, James Cole (DE)
  17. 1R03HD060751-01 -- Effect of Power Seat Function Usage on Tissue Viability in Wheelchair Users with SCI -- Jan, Yih-Kuen (OK)


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Page Last Updated on June 30, 2018 NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®