Hospital Seeks Volunteers For Spinal Cord Injury Research Study Research Examines Development of New Therapeutic Approaches to Treat Paralysis and Other Movement Disorders

December 10, 2009

Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw and The Wadsworth Center in Albany are recruiting volunteers to participate in a study of spinal reflex training, The results of this study will help to develop reflex training as a therapeutic treatment for better functional recovery after spinal cord injury or other damage to the nervous system. Both institutions are part of the New York State Department of Health.

After spinal cord injury, stroke or other traumatic events to the nervous system, reflex functions often change. Because reflexes play an important part in movement and behavior, when reflexes are not working well, movements may be disturbed. Researchers have found that people can learn to increase or decrease a reflex response by means of training. Learning to change a reflex response may become an effective approach as a rehabilitation treatment.

Research participants will stand or sit in a chair while wearing a standard clinical EEG cap for monitoring brain activity. Surface electrodes will be placed on the skin over leg muscles for monitoring muscle activity and over a nerve to produce reflex responses. Nerve stimulation may cause a brief mild sensation. The procedure is completely harmless and non-invasive.

Participation in this study requires approximately three sessions per week for two to three months, followed by four to eight sessions over another two to three months. Each session will last approximately 90 minutes. Participants will be paid $15 per session.

Every effort will be made to accommodate the individual schedules of participants, i.e., before work, after work, lunchtime, etc. Participants should be reliable and prompt since the success of the study depends on consistent participation and it may be difficult to make up missed sessions.

Helen Hayes Hospital is one of the nation’s leading physical rehabilitation hospitals, specializing in rehabilitation following spinal cord injury, stroke and other neurological conditions. The hospital is operated by the New York State Department of Health and is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System. The Wadsworth Center is the research-intensive public health laboratory of the New York State Department of Health dedicated to science in the pursuit of health.

For additional information on how to join this research study, please contact Aiko Thompson at or Laura Tenteromano at 845-786-4854.