Restoration of motor function following spinal cord injury via optimal control of intraspinal microstimulation: Toward a next generation closed-loop neural prosthesis

Peter J. Grahn, Grant W. Mallory, B. Michael Berry, Jan T. Hachmann, Darlene A. Lobel, J. Luis Lujan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

30 Scopus citations


Movement is planned and coordinated by the brain and carried out by contracting muscles acting on specific joints. Motor commands initiated in the brain travel through descending pathways in the spinal cord to effector motor neurons before reaching target muscles. Damage to these pathways by spinal cord injury (SCI) can result in paralysis below the injury level. However, the planning and coordination centers of the brain, as well as peripheral nerves and the muscles that they act upon, remain functional. Neuroprosthetic devices can restore motor function following SCI by direct electrical stimulation of the neuromuscular system. Unfortunately, conventional neuroprosthetic techniques are limited by a myriad of factors that include, but are not limited to, a lack of characterization of non-linear input/output system dynamics, mechanical coupling, limited number of degrees of freedom, high power consumption, large device size, and rapid onset of muscle fatigue. Wireless multi-channel closed-loop neuroprostheses that integrate command signals from the brain with sensor-based feedback from the environment and the system's state offer the possibility of increasing device performance, ultimately improving quality of life for people with SCI. In this manuscript, we review neuroprosthetic technology for improving functional restoration following SCI and describe brain-machine interfaces suitable for control of neuroprosthetic systems with multiple degrees of freedom. Additionally, we discuss novel stimulation paradigms that can improve synergy with higher planning centers and improve fatigue-resistant activation of paralyzed muscles. In the near future, integration of these technologies will provide SCI survivors with versatile closed-loop neuroprosthetic systems for restoring function to paralyzed muscles

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number296
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Brain machine interface
  • Closed-loop control
  • Feedback control
  • Implantable systems
  • Neuroprosthetics
  • Sensors
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this