By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service

Dr. Dobrivoje Stokic is the director of the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.

JACKSON, Miss.—Dr. Dobrivoje Stokic, director of the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, was the keynote speaker at the Jackson hospital’s annual employee recognition banquet on April 17.

Dr. Stokic and other physician-scientists at MRC work to translate basic neuroscience research into useful therapies that will benefit patients suffering from neurological illnesses and injuries. During the banquet he spoke about the hospital’s treadmill gait training program that is being used to help some spinal cord and brain injured patients walk again.

The treadmill—which uses a harness, pulleys and a pneumatic system—takes away some of the patient’s weight and allows trained therapists to induce a stepping motion. Through treadmill gait training, Dr. Stokic hopes to retrain the injured person’s spinal cord to walk again.

“Patients are evaluated to see if they would be good candidates for the program,” Dr. Stokic said. “It’s not for everyone. Potential candidates have to be carefully examined to determine whether treadmill gait training might be beneficial. The approach that we are taking is even more important. We don’t ignore people who appear to be paralyzed initially, but also view them as potential candidates for this new therapy, hoping that they will also gain the ability to walk someday.”

MRC is one of only 12 hospitals in the country that uses treadmill gait training. CNNR researchers are studying the effectiveness of the new therapy. Since the study began in 1998, several patients have seen significant improvement in their walking ability.