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Trial registered on ANZCTR

Registration number
Ethics application status
Date submitted
Date registered
Date last updated
Date data sharing statement initially provided
Type of registration
Prospectively registered

Titles & IDs
Public title
Reversing peripheral nerve dysfunction after spinal cord injury
Scientific title
Reversing peripheral nerve dysfunction using functional electrical stimulation after spinal cord injury
Secondary ID [1] 296425 0
Universal Trial Number (UTN)
Trial acronym
Linked study record

Health condition
Health condition(s) or problem(s) studied:
spinal cord injury 310150 0
Condition category
Condition code
Neurological 308901 308901 0 0
Other neurological disorders
Injuries and Accidents 308924 308924 0 0
Other injuries and accidents

Study type
Description of intervention(s) / exposure
Functional electrical stimulation will be delivered using the ReGrasp device. Surface electrodes are embedded in a cuff worn on the forearm. The stimulator can be operated independently by simple head motions detected by an earpiece containing an accelerometer. The earpiece sends radio frequency signals to the stimulator, advancing it through a 3-state sequence: hand opening, grasp, no stimulation. Typical pulse parameters are: biphasic rectangular wave pulses, frequency 20 to 30 pulses/sec, pulse duration 100 to 200 microseconds, amplitude 25 to 35mA, However, clinicians will be able to adjust values for patient comfort. Participants and their carers will be trained in the use of the ReGrasp, and participants will be asked to use the device for at least one hour daily for 6 weeks prior to nerve transfer surgery. They will be asked to record their daily use of the ReGrasp in a diary, and adherence will be monitored through weekly phone calls by the therapist to participants, who will also monitor any adverse events. Surgery will occur between 1 and 2 weeks after cessation of the stimulation. This surgery does not form part of the intervention.
Intervention code [1] 312729 0
Treatment: Devices
Comparator / control treatment
Historical histological data collected in 15 participants with spinal cord injury who underwent nerve transfer surgery between 2013 and 2015. These participants did not have functional electrical stimulation prior to surgery.
Control group

Primary outcome [1] 307868 0
Axon/nerve fibre ratio, measured in sections of nerve specimens embedded in Araldite Epon, and stained with Methylene Blue. Sections will be analysed using an Olympus BX60 microscope and x100 oil immersion objective, interfaced with monitor and image analysis software,
Timepoint [1] 307868 0
At time of surgery
Secondary outcome [1] 353180 0
Presence or absence of fibrillations on needle electromyography (EMG) pre-operatively
Timepoint [1] 353180 0
Prior to surgery

Key inclusion criteria
1. Complete or incomplete tetraplegia with C5 – C7 motor neurological level
2. Assessed as suitable for nerve transfer surgery by the surgical and occupational therapy team at the Upper Limb Program Multidisciplinary Clinic at Austin Health
3. Consent to nerve transfer surgery and intra-operative nerve and muscle biopsies after being fully informed about expected outcomes, potential risks, surgical procedure, recovery time, postoperative therapy commitments.
4. Able to comply with therapy protocols pre-operatively
Minimum age
18 Years
Maximum age
70 Years
Both males and females
Can healthy volunteers participate?
Key exclusion criteria
1. Accompanying head injury, brachial plexus or peripheral nerve injury at the time of, or preceding the spinal cord injury
2. Any other pre-existing neurological condition
3. Cognitive impairment limiting ability to consent to surgery or comply with postoperative rehabilitation
4. Skeletal or joint injury signifcantly limiting passive range of movement across a joint relevant to the proposed nerve transfer
5. Contraindications to functional electrical stimulation

Study design
Purpose of the study
Allocation to intervention
Non-randomised trial
Procedure for enrolling a subject and allocating the treatment (allocation concealment procedures)
Allocation is not concealed
Methods used to generate the sequence in which subjects will be randomised (sequence generation)
No applicable
Masking / blinding
Open (masking not used)
Who is / are masked / blinded?

Intervention assignment
Single group
Other design features
Not Applicable
Type of endpoint(s)
Statistical methods / analysis
The axon/Schwann cell-myelin ratio (stimulated nerves) will be compared with that in historical controls who did not use functional electrical stimulation pre-operatively (non-stimulated nerves)..
For the primary analysis, the difference in the ratio of axon CSA/nerve fibre CSA in stimulated and non-stimulated nerves will be examined using a t-test if the data are normally distributed, and non-parametric tests if assumptions of normality are not met. Secondary analyses will examine differences on all other histological features between stimulated and non-stimulated nerves

Recruitment status
Not yet recruiting
Date of first participant enrolment
Date of last participant enrolment
Date of last data collection
Sample size
Accrual to date
Recruitment in Australia
Recruitment state(s)
Recruitment hospital [1] 12241 0
Austin Health - Austin Hospital - Heidelberg
Recruitment postcode(s) [1] 24427 0
3084 - Heidelberg

Funding & Sponsors
Funding source category [1] 301009 0
Name [1] 301009 0
University of Melbourne
Address [1] 301009 0
Grattan Street,
Parkville, Victoria 3084
Country [1] 301009 0
Funding source category [2] 301027 0
Name [2] 301027 0
Austin Health
Address [2] 301027 0
145 Studley Road,
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084
Country [2] 301027 0
Primary sponsor type
Austin Health
145 Studley Road,
Heidelberg, Victoria, 3084
Secondary sponsor category [1] 300598 0
Name [1] 300598 0
Address [1] 300598 0
Country [1] 300598 0

Ethics approval
Ethics application status
Ethics committee name [1] 301767 0
Austin Health Human Research Ethics Committee
Ethics committee address [1] 301767 0
Austin Health,
145 Studley Road,
Heidelberg, Victoria, 3084
Ethics committee country [1] 301767 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [1] 301767 0
Approval date [1] 301767 0
Ethics approval number [1] 301767 0

Brief summary
This study will specifically investigate whether functional electrical stimulation (FES) reverses myelin abnormalities in peripheral nerves of people with spinal cord injury. Participants who are scheduled to undergo nerve transfer surgery will be asked to undertake a program of FES using the ReGrasp device (Rehabtronics Inc, Edmonton Canada) for at least one hour daily for 6 weeks prior to the surgery. This device enables a person to close and open the hand and can be operated independently by simple head motions detected by an earpiece. Biopsies of the relevant nerves and muscles will be obtained during the surgery, and these will be processed, analysed and compared with those obtained from previous nerve transfer surgery participants (historical controls). The primary outcome measure is the axon/nerve fibre ratio.
Trial website
Trial related presentations / publications
Public notes

Principal investigator
Name 88030 0
Prof Mary Galea
Address 88030 0
Department of Medicine (Royal Melbourne Hospital)
The University of Melbourne
Level 4, Clinical Sciences Building
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Royal Parade
Parkville, Victoria 3052
Country 88030 0
Phone 88030 0
Fax 88030 0
Email 88030 0
Contact person for public queries
Name 88031 0
Prof Mary Galea
Address 88031 0
Department of Medicine (Royal Melbourne Hospital)
The University of Melbourne
Level 4, Clinical Sciences Building
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Royal Parade
Parkville, Victoria 3052
Country 88031 0
Phone 88031 0
Fax 88031 0
Email 88031 0
Contact person for scientific queries
Name 88032 0
Prof Mary Galea
Address 88032 0
Department of Medicine (Royal Melbourne Hospital)
The University of Melbourne
Level 4, Clinical Sciences Building
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Royal Parade
Parkville, Victoria 3052
Country 88032 0
Phone 88032 0
Fax 88032 0
Email 88032 0

Data sharing statement
Will individual participant data (IPD) for this trial be available (including data dictionaries)?
No/undecided IPD sharing reason/comment
It has not yet been decided whether individual participant data will be made available, since this study involves a very small group of participants.
What supporting documents are/will be available?
No other documents available
Summary results
No Results