A 3-year grant awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will help support the University of Louisville’s (UofL) pediatric spinal cord injury (SCI) research program, announces a university news release. The $1.5 million grant helps fund the work of Andrea Behrman, PhD, who brought her research into the use of Locomotor Training, designed to provide improved rehabilitation to children with paralysis resulting from SCIs, to UofL.

Behrman is a professor of neurosurgery and director of the UofL Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric Neurorecovery and is reported to be a pioneer in the use of Locomotor Training in children. The release says the intense physical therapy regime was developed by Behrman and fellow UofL faculty member Susan J. Harkema, PhD, professor of neurological surgery and the Owsley B. Frazier Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at UofL and the Rehabilitation research director of the UofL Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center.

Behrman’s goal, the release states, is to not only help children with SCIs, but also those with conditions such as head trauma and tumors.

James R. Ramsey, PhD, president of UofL, notes in the release, that “The work of Dr. Behrman and her team is a perfect example of the goal of every researcher at the UofL Health Sciences Center—transforming peoples’ lives through creating and translating into actions new knowledge about how to prevent, treat and cure medical issues.”

Ramsey adds that the university is excited and grateful that the Helmsley Charitable Trust shares its vision and “is providing significant support to help us achieve this ambitious objective.”

The release reports that to date, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided nearly $16.5 million to support UofL researchers investigating both cancer prevention, and cures and rehabilitation efforts for adults and children who are paralyzed.

John Codey, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, adds that Behrman’s work has the potential be transformative for adults and children impacted by paralysis not only in Louisville and Kentucky, but also around the world.

“With this latest grant that is focused on treating pediatric spinal cord injuries, the Trust is thrilled to build upon our relationship with UofL’s world-class team of researchers, who continue to break new ground in the quest to understand and solve some of the most critical medical challenges that we face today,” Codey says.

David L. Dunn, MD, PhD, UofL, executive vice president for health affairs emphasizes the importance of the support, stating that the university is extremely grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust and its recognition of the work taking place at the University of Louisville.

In addition to enabling her team to develop equipment that better fits children as they participate in Locomotor Training, Behrman says thanks to the support received from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, “we now will be able to develop a systematic database for immediate and long-term outcomes for the children who are participating in our program. We also will gain a better understanding of the value of sensory cues such as surface texture, heat/cold or vibrations and their potential impact on the child’s rehabilitation effort.”

Source: University of Louisville