COVID-19: New masking policy, vaccinations, testing and general information. Learn more

Doctors Cunningham and Knutson Awarded $3.4 million NIH Grant to Study Brain Stimulation and Electrical Stimulation of Paralyzed Muscles For Upper Limb Recovery After Stroke

David Cunningham, PhD and Jayme Knutson, PhD, Staff Scientists in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and the MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation Research, were awarded a 5-year $3.4 million NIH grant entitled “tDCS during contralaterally controlled FES for upper extremity hemiplegia.”

The proposed project investigates a strategy to incorporate noninvasive brain stimulation called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with an electrical stimulation technique called contralaterally controlled functional electrical stimulation (CCFES) in order to improve post-stroke upper-limb motor recovery. Both tDCS and CCFES have been shown to improve arm recovery after stroke. The primary objective of this clinical trial is to determine if the combination of tDCS and CCFES is superior to CCFES alone. The study also aims to investigate mechanisms underlying changes in brain physiology and recovery as a result of the therapy.

Dr. Cunningham, Assistant Professor of PM&R at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, is the contact Principal Investigator (PI) for the grant. This is Dr. Cunningham’s first NIH R01 grant, which officially transitions him to the “Independent Investigator” status, an important milestone for a scientist. During peer-review, this grant received a perfect 10 impact score (range 10 – 90) and ranked in the top 1 percentile.

Dr. Knutson, Professor of PM&R, is a multi-PI on the grant. Co-investigators include Richard Wilson, MD, Professor of PM&R, and Doug Gunzler, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.