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Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program


The Office of Higher Education administers the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program for research into new and innovative treatments and rehabilitative efforts for the functional improvement of people with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Research topics may include, but are not limited to, pharmaceutical, medical device, brain stimulus, and rehabilitative approaches and techniques.

Funding Sources

The State of Minnesota established the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Grant Program effective July 1, 2015. Research funding from the Legislature will be split 50/50 between spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. In 2017, the legislature added an additional $5 million for the biennium to support spinal cord and traumatic brain injury research. These grant awards were also supplemented by a $15,000 program donation from the Get Up to Cure Paralysis Foundation.

Grant Recipients 2018

In June, 2017, the Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council convened to review proposals for fiscal year 2018. As a result, twelve projects were funded. The 2018 Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury grantees are:

Spinal Cord Injury Research

  • Mayo Clinic: Safety And Feasibility of Low Level Epidural Electrical Stimulation for Individuals with SCI
  • Mayo Clinic: Modulating The Spinal Cord Microenvironment And Sublesional Circuitry Using Epidural Stimulation With Electrically Conductive Hydrogel Scaffolds Seeded With Schwann Cells
  • Mayo Clinic: Metabolic Risk Factors as Targets to Improve Rehabilitation Outcomes after Spinal Cord Injury
  • Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation: Optimizing Epidural Spinal Cord Stimulation to Restore Cardiovascular Function after Spinal Cord Injury
  • Minneapolis VA Health Care System and University of Minnesota: Upper Body Dynamic Positioning System for Persons with SCI
  • University of Minnesota: Precision Placement of Spinal Neural Progenitor Cells in Patient-Specific 3D Bio-Printed Scaffolds for Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Repair
  • University of Minnesota: Accelerating The Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Treat Spinal Cord Injury
  • AbiliTech Medical Inc.: Development of a Powered Hand Grip System for Quadriplegia

Traumatic Brain Injury Research

  • Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation: Effectiveness of a Neck-Strengthening Program for the Prevention or Mitigation of Sports Concussion Injuries in Student Athletes
  • Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation: Eye Tracking and Neurovision Rehabilitation of Oculomotor Dysfunction in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Mtbi)
  • University of Minnesota: Therapeutic Application of Non-Hematopoietic Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells (Nh­ Ucbscs) In Traumatic Brain Injury: Immune Modulation With Acute And Long Term Benefits
  • Allina Health: Exploring the Role of Combined Cognitive and Motor Dual-Task Assessment and Rehabilitation for Individuals with Residual Symptoms After mTBI

Grant Recipients 2017

The four projects funded for 2017 fiscal year were:

  • Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System/University of Minnesota: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation as an Intervention for Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury. This research project is a pilot study providing the first step in determining whether robot exoskeleton rehabilitative resources can be useful for motor complete as well as motor incomplete spinal cord injury veterans.
  • University of Minnesota/Hennepin County Medical Center: Vagus Nerve Stimulation to Augment Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury - Evaluation of Patients with Moderate Injury. The grant will provide initial evidence for the use of the non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator for treatment of patients recovering from moderate traumatic brain injury.
  • Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System: Enhancing Rehabilitation with Neuromodulation for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury. The traumatic brain injury grant awarded to the Minneapolis VA will support a study of the efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation to improve working memory performance and related cognitive functions in patients with mild traumatic brain injury.
  • University of Minnesota: Muscle-Powered Exoskeleton for Standing and Walking by People with Spinal Cord Injury. The grant will support work on a new concept using just one channel of stimulation combined with a lightweight, passive energy storing exoskeleton to provide short-range walking for a user with spinal cord injury.

Grant Recipients 2016

Four 2016 fiscal year research grants were awarded. Two spinal cord injury research projects focusing on improving standing in patients with paraplegia and movement outcomes for individuals with previously untreatable, chronic spinal cord injuries. Two traumatic brain injury research projects focusing on documenting the effectiveness of neurovision rehabilitation for patients with mild traumatic brain injuries using eye-tracking and serum markers as objective classifiers and outcome measures for traumatic brain injuries.


Download reports to the Minnesota Legislature on the institutions receiving grants and their purpose.