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Christine K. Thomas, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery

Research Interests

Neuromuscular Weakness, Fatigue, Spasms and Regeneration

Christine K. Thomas, Ph.D.
Christine K. Thomas, Ph.D.

My research has addressed issues relating to peripheral nerve regeneration, neuromuscular fatigue, weakness and spasticity. Much of this work has involved human subjects and has required the use of surface and intramuscular EMG recordings at the whole muscle or single motor unit levels, intraneural stimulation and recording techniques, as well as measurements of peripheral and central conduction using electrical and magnetic stimulation. Now this knowledge is being applied to examine the neurophysiology of human spinal cord injury.

We have documented that muscle weakness and atrophy is often severe after human spinal cord injury. It relates to partial paralysis, denervation, poor voluntary drive, and/or altered use. Muscles paralyzed completely or partially by spinal cord injury are also highly fatigable. We aim to quantify this excessive force loss, to determine the factors that contribute to this fatigue, and to analyze whether the fatigue sites are central and/or peripheral. Information from these studies may help improve voluntary control of muscle, as well as systems used for functional electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles.

Other projects examine spasms because muscles that are paralyzed by spinal cord injury are not always quiescent. A few weeks after injury, it is common for paralyzed muscles to contract involuntarily. Our research examines how extensive and intense this activity of paralyzed muscles is because on-going neural activity may prevent some muscle deterioration.

Our research has also expanded to include studies in rodents. These studies aim to develop ways to ameliorate denervated-induced muscle atrophy. We have shown that some function can be restored to denervated muscles by reinnervation from axons that grow from embryonic ventral spinal cord cells transplanted into nearby peripheral nerve. Our current studies aim to improve muscle strength by acute neuroprotective and activity-based interventions.

CONTACT DETAILS

Christine K. Thomas, Ph.D.

  • The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
    1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
    Miami, FL 33136
  • cthomas3@med.miami.edu
  • (305) 243-7109
  • (305) 243-3913
INFORMATION

PUBLICATIONS

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS/MEMBERSHIPS

Society for Neuroscience

LABORATORY MEMBERS

Name Title Phone Email
Robert Grumbles, Ph.D. Associate Scientist 305-243-7112 rgrumbles@miami.edu
Bradley DeForest, M.S. Research Associate 305-243-7112 bxd128@miami.edu