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Neuro-cardiac self-regulation therapy

The University of Sydney and Kolling Institute

  • Spinal Cord Injury Research Grant
Date Funded:
  • 30 June, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Ashley Craig

Project summary

Clinical trials and translation of a novel neuro-cardiac self-regulation therapy to improve autonomic and neural function after spinal cord injury.

What is the issue for NSW?

Spinal cord injury is a devastating injury that results in paralysis to the spinal cord and very signficiant problems such as highly unstable blood pressure and alterned nervous system control. This can be life threatening, reducing the person’s quality of life and life expectancy.

While there has been an important focus on trying to restore voluntary physical function, such as mobility, little attention has been given to the control of vital involuntary or automatic functions of the body, such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.


What does the research aim to do and how?

This research project will focus on an approach that trains the person to restore physical function by learning how to self-regulate their autonomic nervous system activity which is central for a healthy life.

This research project will conduct clinical trials to determine how effective self-regulation therapy is. It works by teaching the participant the connections between the way they breathe and how their nervous system operates. The participant also learns to control their breathing rate and nervous system activity by observing feedback on a computer screen. This therapy has been called biofeedback. For example, life-threatening unstable blood pressure will potentially become more stable as the participant learns control, and this will result in increased life expectancy and quality of life as their autonomic nervous system function improves.