Lab Members

PhD Student, Biomedical Engineering
Reduction of Spasticity after Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke
BSc (Hon), Biomedical Engineering, 1997
(Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt)
MSc (Distinction), Biomedical Engineering, 2001
(Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in September 2002
Spasticity is a very debilitating side-effect of spinal cord injury (SCI) and stroke. It can lead to uncontrolled muscle spasms and compromise the efficiency of residual voluntary function. This research project focuses on obtaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of spasticity using computer modeling. More specifically, we study the properties and behavior of spinal motoneurons under the condition of spasticity with the aim of developing a rehabilitation intervention for reducing the level of spasticity after SCI. This work involves using computer simulations to develop a computer model of spastic spinal motoneurons after SCI. This model is used to: 1) Study the properties of channels and currents that contribute to the spastic behavior. 2) Examine the effect of extracellular electrical stimulation as a potential rehabilitation technique for suppressing the hyperexcitability of spinal motoneurons after SCI, hence reducing the level of spasticity.


PhD student, Centre for Neuroscience
Effects of Intraspinal Microstimulation (ISMS) on skeletal muscle
BSc, Kinesiology
(University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta)
MSc, Exercise Physiology
(University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in January 2003
My project deals with the effects of Intraspinal Microstimulation (ISMS) on skeletal muscle. My work has shown that ISMS preferentially recruits slow- and fast-twitch fatigue-resistant muscle fibers, in contrast with peripheral forms of functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS) which primarily recruit fast-twitch fatiguable fibers. This confirms earlier results from the Mushahwar lab that ISMS recruits force in a gradual fashion leading to fatigue-resistant stepping and finer control of movements. My next project will be focused on determining which neurons are activated by stimulation in the spinal cord. I will be using immunoflourescent techniques to determine whether ISMS activates motoneurons, interneurons or afferent fibers within the spinal cord. The results of this work should give us a better understanding of how ISMS is able to recruit fatigue-resistant fibers and produce finer control of movements than peripheral forms of FNS.


PhD Student, Biomedical Engineering
Early Detection and Prevention of Pressure Sores
BSc, Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2002
(Universidad de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in January 2004

The overall goal the project Iím working on, is the prevention of deep pressure sores on people who suffered a spinal cord injury, which is a problem that has kept consistently high incidence rates over the years and which has severe social, economical and health impacts. The main factor causing deep sores is pressure occluding capillaries in tissue, leading to ischemia and muscle necrosis. To accomplish our goal, we will develop a belt capable of intermittently electrically stimulate the gluteus to elicit periodic muscle contractions capable of changing the internal tissue pressure profiles and restoring blood flow to the compressed tissue. MRI studies will be performed to asses the effectiveness of our system and to help to develop a computer model of the muscle. The model will be capable of predicting pressure in deep tissues using pressure measured at the sitting interface as input, serving as a reliable prediction tool. Our final product is a system that can be used on a daily basis without interfering at all with the userís activities while effectively preventing the onset of a deep pressure sore.


MSc Student, Biomedical Engineering
Restoring Standing and Stepping after Spinal Cord Injury

BASc Electrical Engineering, 2002
(University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in September 2002
Spinal cord injury (SCI) often results in the loss of the ability to stand and step. Restoring locomotion after injury not only improves independence and self-image but also has the benefit of improving blood flow and bone density resulting in reduced hospitalization. We are working to design and implement a FES system for restoring locomotion after SCI. The system consists of a feedback controller designed to apply appropriate stimulation patterns through either an ISMS implant or intramuscular electrodes. The controller uses measurements of the hip angle and the amount of weight being supported by each leg to determine the appropriate timing for the initiation and termination of each step. By using these feedback signals we will remove the need for the user to manually switch between stimulation phases and allow the hands to be used for other tasks.


MSc Student, Biomedical Engineering
Non-invasive Assessment of Spinal Cord Injury

BSc, Electrical Engineering Co-op, 2004
(University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in September 2004
I joined the lab informally in the summer of 2002 providing preoperative magnetic resonance imaging. Becoming officially part of the lab in January 2004 and finally as a grad student in September 2004. Magnetic resonance provides a powerful tool to non-invasively examine the central nervous system and is more that just imaging. I am using two Magnetic Resonance techniques to characterize the progression of spinal cord injury in-vivo. The first is Transverse relaxation it provides information about morphological and cellular changes in the spinal cord based one the diffusion of water though the tissue. The second technique is in-vivo spectroscopy which provides information about changes in metabolites in the spinal cord. After characterizing the changes due to injury these techniques will be used to assess the effects of intervention on the spinal cord.


MSc Student, Biomedical Engineering
Restoring Standing and Stepping after Spinal Cord Injury
BEng, Computer Engineering
(University Tuiuti do ParanŠ, Brazil)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in September 2004
I'm interested in the mechanisms of action of intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS). For the better understanding of the spread of ISMS stimuli through the neural networks of the spinal cord we did a series of experiments of simultaneous stimulation and recordings. With this technique it was possible to quantify the stimulus spread at up to a distance of 11mm. By analyzing these data we hope to have a better understanding of what types of neurons are active with ISMS and to what areas of the grey matter does our stimulus get propagated. Once we have a more solid representation of the stimuli spread, we hope to be able to further advance and perfect the technique that we believe will one day help people with spinal cord injury lead better lives.


MSc Student, Biomedical Engineering
Reduction of Spasticity after Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke

BSc(Eng), Biological Engineering, 2005
(University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in September 2005


Laboratory Technologist
Multiple Projects
BSc (Hons)
(Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia)
MSc
(University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in October 2003
My responsibilities are varied and changing, depending on current need. On an on-going basis, I am involved with several of the research projects, including the  ISMS project led by Lisa Guevremont, the pressure sores project, led by Leandro Solis, and the recently completed dorsal root study. This involves assisting at surgery, preparing microwires and EMG wires, assisting during experiments, as well as training and monitoring progress.  I also look after the administrative needs of the laboratory. It is my pleasure to be involved with such a dynamic research group as that of Dr. Vivian Mushahwar.


Laboratory Technologist
Multiple Projects
BSc (Hons) Physiology, 2005
(University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in May 2004
Some of the most detrimental effects of spinal cord injury (SCI) occur from cellular and biochemical changes arising after spinal cord damage. These changes include ionic imbalances, blood flow impediment, and cell death. We are in the process of developing a novel neuroprotective technique to prevent these damaging secondary responses of SCI. We hope that our neuroprotective delivery system (NDS) will neutralize harmful secondary responses, and their resultant toxic byproducts. NDS will intervene at the site of injury by replacing the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the spinal cord. Our design utilizes two microcatheters implanted into the subarachnoid space at the site of injury. One microcatheter will remove the resident CSF that has an ionic imbalance and contains harmful post-injury compounds. The second microcatheter will inject artificial CSF to stabilize the cellular environment of the spinal cord. This design should also permit the rapid and efficient delivery of beneficial pharmacological agents directly to the site of injury. The efficacy of NDS is currently being assessed using different microcatheter designs and implantation techniques


Undergraduate Student (University of Alberta)
Non-invasive Assessment of Spinal Cord Injury
BSc, Neuroscience, 2006 (Expected)
(University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta)
Joined Mushahwar laboratory in January 2006
The goal of my project is to characterize the biochemical changes that occur in a spine following injury. NMR spectroscopy will be used to determine the concentrations of relevant molecules in both injured and uninjured spines. This is being done not only to further our understanding of the etiology of spinal cord injury, but also to determinewhether NMR spectroscopy might be useful for early detection and analysis of an injury in vivo.



People

PhD Students
Sherif Elbasiouny
Jeremy Bamford
Leandro Solis

MSc Students
Lisa Guevremont
Daniel Hallihan
Roger Calixto
Andrew Ganton

Lab Technologists
Enid Pehowich
Jason Dyck

Undergraduate Students
Steve McGie

B.M.E. | UofA NeuroSci