Our goal is to disprove the notion of a "complete" spinal cord injury.
HINRI Labs, or the Healthcare Institute for NeuroRecovery and Innovation, was founded for the sole purpose of changing the standard of care for chronic complete spinal cord injuries (SCI) nationwide and ultimately around the world. Our mission is to use our clinical, military, and university partners to accelerate, advance, and scale-up all existent evidence-based research that has successfully demonstrated, through safety and efficacy measures, the potential of neurological recovery of movement, function, and/or sensation, below the level of injury, for chronic complete SCI patients.
Meet Ignacio Montoya
Ignacio was valedictorian of his Georgia Tech Air Force ROTC and was the first person to be given both a pilot and navigator slot upon graduation. On his way home from graduation, Ignacio was struck by a car that had run a red light going 55 miles per hour. The impact broke nine ribs, caused both lungs to collapse, and left Ignacio with 28 other injuries. He died four times on the way to the hospital and was in a coma for three months.
When he awoke from the coma, Ignacio learned he had a T4 complete spinal cord injury and brachial plexus injury to his right arm (the nerves to his arm had literally been ripped away from the spinal cord). Doctors told him he would never walk again and later even suggested he should amputate his arm. They severely underestimated Ignacio’s will and determination.
Thanks to HINRI, Ignacio gained access to a Lokomat, a robotic-assisted orthosis suspended over a treadmill. (You can see Ignacio on the Lokomat in the picture in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution article below.)
While most people who have insurance benefits use the Lokomat for 30 minutes, one to two times per week, Ignacio started walking three hours per day, three days a week. He has now walked over 650 miles, the most ever by anyone with paralysis.
This intensive, activity-based rehabilitation showed great results without any medical intervention. Ignacio was now able to use the restroom independently and activated major muscle groups below his injury including his abdominals, obliques, gluteus maximus, partial hamstrings, and partial quadriceps.
But Ignacio didn’t stop there.
In his quest to walk again, Ignacio discovered an exciting breakthrough technology, transcutaneous electrical stimulation, and signed up for a clinical trial. In October of 2019, Ignacio moved his legs and right arm for the first time since his accident six years ago. The picture to the right shows Ignacio voluntarily fully extending his left leg.
Two months later, another individual from Atlanta moved her legs for the first time since an accident eight months prior had left her paralyzed.
The Next Step
Spinal cord injuries cost the nation an estimated $9.7 billion each year. Individually, a severe spinal cord injury can cost $185,000 annually. Insurance does not pay for rehabilitation for severe spinal cord injury patients, leaving them without hope for recovery.
We are going to change that.
In January 2020, we began a one-year clinical trial at UCLA and in Atlanta, Georgia to prove the potential of transcutaneous electrical stimulation to help severe spinal cord injury patients recover the ability to stand, step, use their hands and arms, and improve other lost functions. The trial is unique for its length – one year versus the more typical three months – and for its focus on healing the entire patient versus focusing on only one area of the body. (On the right, you scroll through Ignacio's daily dairy from is Facebook page.)
This clinical trial will lay the groundwork for changing the standard of care for severe spinal cord injuries so that insurance will provide reimbursement and access to life-changing breakthroughs.
The first phase of this clinical trial will cost $1.65 million. We have raised just over $1.3 million, leaving us within $350,000 of reaching our goal. Click here to invest in our efforts.
"What this is teaching us is that those networks of neurons
below a spinal cord injury still can function after paralysis,"
Kendall Lee, M.D., Ph.D., neurosurgeon and director of
Mayo Clinic's Neural Engineering Laboratories
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