The University of Louisville receives $10 Million Donation For Locomotor Training in Pediatric NeuroRecovery

The University of Louisville has received a $7.3 million donation to support the work of Andrea Behrman, PT, PhD, NeuroRecovery Training Institute (NeuroRTI) founder, and Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Louisville (UofL). The University of Louisville is providing $2.7 million additional funds for her research using locomotor training as a means to regain use of paralyzed limbs in children with neurological injuries and disease at Frazier Rehab Institute, a part of KentuckyOne Health and the site of Dr. Behrman’s research. In addition, these funds will support an endowed chair position for Dr. Behrman and jump-start the development of the “Kosair Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery” at the University of Louisville. The gift is believed to be the largest amount ever awarded in the neurological physical therapy field.

Dr. Behrman began her research in pediatrics while at the University of Florida conducting the Kids STEP Study. This study extended the use of locomotor training to activate the neuromuscular system below the level of injury from adults to children with chronic, severe spinal cord injury (SCI) that were deemed non-ambulatory. Locomotor training has its foundation in experimental models of SCI demonstrating that the spinal cord neural circuitry responds to sensory input that looks like walking to generate a stepping response of muscle activity. While successfully applied with adults after SCI, the use of locomotor training in children with neurological conditions is relatively novel. The results to date have been remarkable not only for recovery and development of stepping, but also for development of sitting balance and bladder function. This work provided the basis for continued research and translation to clinical practice.

“It is an honor to receive this gift from Kosair Charities and the University of Louisville,” said Dr. Andrea Behrman. “The support Kosair Charities provides is critical to our advancing the science of rehabilitation in children. We look forward to sharing our findings with the larger neurological physical therapy and pediatric communities to improve the course of outcomes for children with neurological conditions.”

Additional coverage of the event, provided courtesy of WHAS, can be found online. Physical therapists who are interested in learning more about Dr. Behrman’s work or enrolling in continuing education courses in locomotor training at NeuroRTI may do so on the NeuroRTI website. NeuroRTI provides both introductory courses in locomotor training specific to adults and to pediatric populations. Additionally, an advanced certification program in locomotor training for adults will be offered beginning in 2014.