Get A Grip trial: Spinal stimulation for upper limb and respiratory function in tetraplegia

Fifty five percent of all spinal cord injuries (SCI) result in tetraplegia; impaired movement and sensation of the arm, hand, leg and respiratory muscles. For people with tetraplegia, restoring hand and arm function ranks highest of all functional recovery targets, closely followed by improved breathing and coughing.

Exercise training is the primary treatment to improve upper-limb and respiratory function after SCI. Emerging evidence from pre-clinical and clinical studies suggest that transcutaneous spinal cord neuro-stimulation (TSS), increases spinal cord excitability. In TSS the spinal cord is non-invasively stimulated using electric currents, through electrodes stuck on the skin.

The aim of the Get A Grip study is to explore if TSS, combined with exercise training, can improve hand and respiratory function for people with chronic tetraplegia (>1 year).

The trial involves 30-min of breathing and upper limb training program, while spinal stimulation is delivered, 3 times a week for 6 weeks. The training is led by an experienced exercise physiologist, physio‑, or occupational therapist. This is a multi-centre community-based trial, so training will be conducted at the Spinal Cord Injuries Research Centre (SCIRC), NeuRA and NeuroMoves centres across different states in Australia

Below are the main inclusion criteria for this study, please see the information sheet for the full criteria:

  • aged 18 years or older
  • diagnosed with a spinal cord injury between the levels of C2 and C8 at least one year ago and able to breath independently
  • willing and able to participate in a training program three times a week for 6 weeks
  • do not have severe upper limb spasticity or contractures

This is one of a series of trials to come from Project Spark, a collaboration with SpinalCure, with additional backing from Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA), CatWalk (NZ) and Forward Ability Support.

To find out more about the Get A Grip trial

Download our information sheet here
  • Email the Get A Grip team at email hidden; JavaScript is required
  • Or sign up to our Research Participant Database to be contacted about relevant research at SCIRC.