Assistant Professor Hang Jin Jo, PhD, focuses on studying how the brain controls movements in healthy people, as well as in those with neurological impairments such as spinal cord injury and stroke.
With my physical therapy educational background, I have been always intrigued by human movement, specifically how our brain controls movement. We move constantly during the day without even thinking about it most of the time. However, very simple movement such as moving a finger is achieved from such a complex process that involves brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles and their neurophysiological interactions. I think understanding this process is fascinating, and it is a key to improve motor function in various neurological conditions.
My current research approaches in spinal cord injury could have a direct impact on many people’s lives. Currently, there is no cure for spinal cord injury, and any research approaches and efforts have potential to lead to better treatment outcomes in spinal cord injury. I believe that I am contributing to this process by working in this field with the people with spinal cord injury and have impact on people that our lab works with.
My research goal is to find or develop novel approaches to improve motor function in people with motor deficits. Our laboratory’s expertise is in using neurostimulation to achieve this goal.
Once scientific challenges to the process determine an approach that could be more effective than current approaches, we face the next challenge of translating our findings to clinical settings, so that they can potentially be applied to a larger population, beyond our study participants.
We just started a clinical trial in spinal cord injury at our laboratory. The trial uses a stimulation device applied to the spinal cord to increase motor output and aims to improve arm and hand movement in people after spinal cord injury.
We are excited about the potential positive effect of this trial and are looking forward to working with more participants.