Business First of Louisville has named Susan Harkema, PhD, founder of the NeuroRecovery Training Institute (NeuroRTI), “Innovator of the Year” in a special supplement to the paper intended to recognize Greater Louisville’s 2014 Partners in Health Care.

In a recent news release, NeuroRTI reports that Harkema has spent the last 20 years compiling evidence to reinforce the idea that movement can be initiated via stimulation of the spinal cord in humans. Harkema was named “Innovator of the Year” in recognition of her efforts to assist individuals who have sustained spinal cord injuries (SCIs) and paralysis.

The release states that in 2009, Harkema implanted an epidural electronic stimulator into patient Rob Summers. As a result, Summers, paralyzed from the chest down since 2006, can now reportedly wiggle his toes, shake his feet, and stand alone when the stimulator is on. Three patients have now received the electronic stimulator and eight more are scheduled to be implanted within the next year.

Learn more about Harkema’s work here

Harkema emphasizes the honor she feels in the recognition and adds that the research, “has challenged the belief that complete paralysis is permanent and no recovery is possible. To be able to present someone with new possibilities and an improved quality of life is really a wonderful thing and we are optimistic about what it could all mean for the continued improvement of motor functions.”

Source: NeuroRTI