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TIRR & NeuroRecovery Network

NeuroRecovery Network (NRN): TIRR Memorial Hermann is one of six rehabilitation centers that have partnered with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (CDRF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN). The NRN is designed to help provide and develop therapies to promote functional recovery and improve the health and quality of life of people living with paralysis. The NRN to provides support for the translation of basic science and applied research into intensive, activity-based rehabilitation treatments.  The NRN will also support the establishment of specialized centers to provide standardized care based on current scientific and clinical evidence.

The NRN evaluates the intense locomotor training treatment program in which individuals participate in outpatient therapy five days a week for one and a half hours sessions each day.  The minimum number of sessions recommended is 20, however some patients may benefit from participating in more than 20 sessions.  Participants in the NRN are re-evaluated every 20 sessions and at that time the NRN physicians and therapists will take that time to talk about goals for the future and make adjustments.

What Is Locomotor Training?

Locomotor training is the method of physical therapy currently employed by the NRN. In locomotor training sessions, the participant is suspended in a harness over a treadmill, while specially trained therapists move their legs to simulate walking. As the individual regains function, they move from the treadmill to overground treatment time to increase carryover of the therapy session.

Locomotor training derives from recent advances in scientific understanding about neural plasticity (the ability of the neurons in the nervous system to develop new connections and "learn" new functions) and the role the spinal cord plays in controlling stepping and standing. Locomotor training works to "awaken" dormant neural pathways by repetitively stimulating the muscles and nerves in the lower body.

Data Collection Information

Data collected from evaluations and sessions with participants in the NRN will become part of a network-wide database that contains comprehensive medical and functional information about the progress of each individual. By collecting and analyzing this information, the NRN hopes to be able to accurately measure program outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who qualifies to participate in the NeuroRecovery Network?
At the present time, the program is open to individuals receiving outpatient locomotor training with a cervical or thoracic spinal cord injury who have some movement or muscle tone in their legs.

What steps does one have to take to receive treatment by the NRN?
Patients must have a referral from a physician to receive locomotor training therapy. All potential patients must be seen by the NRN physician and physical therapists at the NRN facility, to be screened for any complicating medical issues that would make this therapy inappropriate.

What is the cost of receiving therapy through the NRN? Who will pay for it?

NRN sites are committed to working with every participant to secure reimbursement for the locomotor training therapy that the NRN is evaluating.  It is expected that costs will be covered by your insurance company.

What should I bring to each session? 
All patients need bring to a training session is loose-fitting clothes appropriate for physical activity.

What results can I expect? What long-term improvements to my health will this locomotor training therapy provide?
A range of results and health improvements are reported in the scientific literature; others are beginning to emerge as this therapy is applied to human patients. What is known is that results will vary from patient to patient.  This therapy may contribute to improved cardiovascular and pulmonary function and blood flow to the arms and legs. In some patients, it may boost the healing potential of the skin, help increase bone density, and improve bladder function. Functional results among NRN patients have ranged from improved trunk stability to recovery of standing and stepping ability.  No two patients will respond in exactly the same way, nor is each patient likely to experience the entire range of possible changes and improvements.

To request more information about the NRN from TIRR Memorial Hermann please complete this form.

Learn more about the NRN at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Web site.