The Harel Laboratory

Our goal is simple yet challenging:

To improve voluntary movement of weakened parts of the body.

To improve quality of life for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Approach

We use the principle of ‘Fire Together, Wire Together’: When nearby nerves fire together repeatedly, connections between those nerves strengthen. The ability to change nerve circuit function is called “neuroplasticity”. Neuroplasticity helps nerve circuits rewire and reconnect, leading to improved movement and control below the injury. 

Our research interventions:

  • Electrical spinal stimulation
  • Magnetic brain stimulation
  • Targeted physical exercises
  • Ischemic pre-conditioning
  • New uses for old drugs
  • And more…

Our cutting-edge technologies:

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Infrared-guided neuronavigation
  • Computerized posturography
  • And MUCH more…

Our Values

  • Communicate openly with people in the community with SCI, ALS, and other disorders.
  • Share data and collaborate openly with other researchers.
  • Continually foster the recruitment and development of new and young researchers.

Our group is part of the James J. Peters VA Spinal Cord Damage Research Center. The Center has a thriving mix of senior and junior research faculty and staff, spanning specialties from neurology, rehabilitation, physiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, engineering, and molecular science.

We are open to enrollment of Veterans AND non-Veterans for our clinical research studies.

publications

Our Latest work

Here we developed and tested a novel configuration of cervical transcutaneous spinal stimulation to noninvasively facilitate spared neural circuits after cervical SCI and ALS.

This study helps better understand how different nerve circuits interact with each other, and how we might be able to improve hand function by activating spared nerve connections.