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March 2015 E-News

Welcome to the March 2015 Mount Sinai Spinal Connection E-News

We hoped that you enjoyed last month's Mount Sinai E-News. In this issue find out about our latest SCI Research Studies. Also find out about the new Life Challenge Events that you can participate in, some new faces in our SCI Program, NYC Spinal's upcoming Mardi Gras Fundraiser, The Axis Project and the June 14-15th SCI Sexuality Conference.

For comments or story ideas please contact Jim Cesario.
Mount Sinai Research Update
The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine is continuously working to advance research in Spinal Cord Injury. Here is a brief overview of our current studies:
A Single-Blind, Randomized, Parallel Arm, Phase II Proof-of-Concept Study of the Safety and Efficacy of HuCNS-SC Transplantation in Cervical Spinal Cord Injury
We are one of 15 sites in the US participating in this trial. The objective of this study is to assess the safety and efficacy of the transplantation of embryonic stem cells into the cervical spinal cord of individuals with cervical spinal cord injury. The stem cells will be administered through an open neurosurgical procedure with direct injection into the spinal cord in multiple locations immediately above and below the site of injury. Subjects who receive the stem cells will have a total dose of cells dependent upon their cohort assignment. Subjects will be monitored during scheduled visits at Mount Sinai for 1 year after transplantation.
Feasibility of an exoskeleton-assisted walking program in progressive multiple sclerosis
Funding from ­­­­­ the National MS Society has allowed us to become the first center in the country to study the use of the ReWalk exoskeleton by persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). The ReWalk is one of our two exoskeletons (powered devices used to help individuals walk) at Mount Sinai. The primary goal of this study is to allow us to study how feasible an exoskeleton walking program is for people with MS.  In this study, we will assess factors associated with successful exoskeleton walking and determine whether using the ReWalk improves walking without the exoskeleton. We will also assess the symptoms commonly experienced in MS to explore whether exoskeleton-assisted walking could be a disease modifying strategy.
Expanding capacity for multi-site SCI research
This study will help us to determine whether regular walking with the ReWalk or Ekso (our second exoskeleton) can reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disease, or improve other secondary conditions such as bowel/bladder, and sleep. We will monitor changes in cardiometabolic risk factors by checking the blood lipid profile and other markers for heart disease and diabetes before, during, and after the 12-week walking program.
Leveraging applications for personalized adaptive technology solutions in the home and workplace
This project was created to test the feasibility of performing home assessments with an existing app using an iPad and laser measure. Participants will be able to use the provided equipment to create a floor plan of their home or workplace to assess the accessibility of that environment. This project is made possible by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.
If you are interested in hearing more information please contact Alexandra Voigt (
New Faces in The Crowd
Miguel Escalon M.D. our Mount Sinai 2013 SCI Fellow has been appointed Assistant Professor and Director, Critical Care Rehabilitation for the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine this past year. He attended medical school in Illinois through the University of Illinois Peoria Campus.
While in medical school he received a masters in Public Health Administration. Dr. Escalon trained in Rehab Medicine in Houston (at T.I.R.R.) through Baylor College of Medicine. His interests are pain in SCI, spasticity, health disparities faced by minority groups (of which physically disabled persons are one), and access to neighborhood and health care for physically disabled persons.

Jennifer Gomez M.D., our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Medicine Fellow was born and raised in Queens. She completed her undergraduate degree in political science from Columbia University then went on to attend medical school at Saint Georges University in Grenada.  Dr. Gomez completed her Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at  Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx where she served as Chief Resident during her final year.  She currently serves on the executive board for the New York Society of (PM&R). She is excited to start her SCI Medicine fellowship at Mount Sinai. As a fellow, she takes special interest in sexuality after SCI. She also hopes to develop a dance program/workshop for individuals with SCI. Outside of the hospital, she enjoys spending her free time participating in Spanish folkloric dance and cultural events.
SCI Sexuality Conference
Axis Project
My name is Alex Elegudin and I am the President of Wheeling Forward. Through my years of experience, I have worked with individuals through the rehab process and have learned that they need a social community-based and accessible option to continue their progress after completing inpatient rehabilitation.

Together with my colleague, George Gallego, President of Wheels of Progress, we have formed a new center, The Axis Project - a revolutionary social adult community center program for people with physical disabilities.

The unique center empowers people with physical disabilities to pursue a healthy, active lifestyle.

The Axis Project is located at 1325 Fifth Avenue, near E 112 Street, in Manhattan, featuring
•             a fully accessible exercise gymnasium
•             individualized exercise plans with assistance from personal trainers
•             adaptive yoga classes and wheelchair spinning classes
•             nutrition counseling
•             computer workshops
•             advocacy resources
•             arts therapy
•             wheelchair maintenance and repair services
 For more information, please email us at or at
Life Challenge Upcoming Events
Swimming Lessons- April 15-May 13, 2015
Combat Laser Tag-Long Island City– April 17, 2015
Sky Dive-New Paltz, N.Y.-June 11, 2015
Team Challenge –TBA (A Weekend of Self Discovery and Adventure)
For info or to reserve a spot, contact Jim Cesario.
Follow Life Challenge on Facebook

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Mount Sinai Dept. Rehab. Medicine, 3 East 101st Street, New York, NY 10029, 212.824.8369

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