Jaclyn Ann Witko

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

MS Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering

First Advisor

Merrill, Thomas

Second Advisor

Singh, Anita

Third Advisor

Vernengo, Andrea J.


Rehabilitation technology; Tissue scaffolds


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering


Changes in monosynaptic reflex, often used to study spasticity, has been tested through the H-reflex in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients after rehabilitation training, such as body weight support treadmill training or cycling. The combinational effects of rehabilitation training and a bioengineered scaffold on spasticity in SCI animal model have not been studied. We used a clinically relevant animal model of spinal cord moderate contusion at T9/T10 with BWSTT and the bioengineered scaffold PNIPAAm-g-PEG loaded with the growth factors BDNF/NT-3 to measure the efficiency of the combinational bioengineered approach to treat spasticity. Five animal groups were included in the study: sham, injury, SCI + BWSTT, SCI + PNIPAAm-g-PEG with BDNF/NT-3 (Transplant), and SCI + BWSTT/PNIPAAm-g-PEG with BDNF/NT-3 (combinational). Results indicate that there was an increase in the over ground BBB test scores from the BWSTT, and combinational groups from weeks 6-8, but not in the transplant only or injury groups when compared to the sham. There was also a decrease in habituation of the H-reflex and restoration of rate depression properties in both the BWSTT and combinational groups.