CHBH Seminar Series: Dr Tom Nightingale

Thursday 26 May 2022 (13:00-14:00)

These seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University. Please register your interest to attend using the link above.

We are delighted to announce that the Centre for Human Brain Health (CHBH) will welcome Dr Tom Nightingale, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology within the University of Birmingham's School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences, to present an online CHBH Seminar (via Zoom, with potential for a small physical audience), taking place on Thursday 26th May, 13:00-14:00 BST.


If you wish to attend and be sent the Zoom link, you can register your by emailing

Spinal cord stimulation to treat haemodynamic instability and improve exercise capacity following spinal cord injury

Presently there are over 2.5 million people living worldwide with spinal cord injury (SCI), which is a complex and devastating neurological condition. With motor-complete injuries, exercise is restricted to the upper-limbs and an individual’s physical capacity or fitness is further limited by disrupted cardiovascular control, whereby the cardiovascular system does not adapt appropriately to a bout of exercise leading to premature fatigue. Evidence has suggested that only 25% of individuals with paraplegia have the fitness necessary to maintain independent living. Moreover, it is well established that low fitness is a key risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death in this population. Recent findings have demonstrated that epidural spinal cord stimulation (eSCS) can restore bodily functions after SCI by re-awakening dormant spinal circuits. While promising, a major drawback is that individuals must undergo a highly invasive and expensive surgical procedure to implant a pulse generator and electrodes on top of the spinal cord. Emerging evidence demonstrates that non-invasive transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS; with electrodes applied over the skin to deliver electrical stimulation) can target the same spinal circuits as eSCS, and, importantly, elicit similar improvements in function (e.g., improved trunk stability and bladder function, and normalise blood pressure).

This talk will describe the causes and impact of altered cardiovascular control following SCI, different SCS paradigms that can be utilised, along with the safety and efficacy of these approaches to ameliorate autonomic dysfunctions in this population. Hypothesis generating data will be presented indicating that cardiovascular function can be modulated with eSCS (i.e., increased blood pressure) and result in an acute improvement in exercise performance by a magnitude much greater than weeks or months of exercise training.

Speaker Biography

Tom Nightingale is an integrative physiologist with an interest in understanding the impact of physical activity on cardiometabolic and cerebrovascular health outcomes in individuals with neurological conditions. Primarily, Tom’s research has focused on the efficacy of therapeutic interventions (exercise and neuromodulation) to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals with a spinal cord injury. Tom is an Associate Member of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), University of British Columbia, where he was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

These seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University. Please register your interest to attend using the link above.

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