The Cornwall Lab focuses on researching Neonatal brachial plexus injury (NBPI) and cerebral palsy (CP), two of the most common causes of paralysis in children. Both conditions cause secondary contractures, or loss of joint flexibility, that are the primary driver of physical disability and need for surgical treatment. These contractures cannot be cured by existing therapies because the cause of these contractures is unknown.

Through development of a mouse model of NBPI we discovered that contractures are caused by impaired longitudinal growth of denervated muscle, and that this impaired growth is characterized by overstretched sarcomeres (Figure 1). We also found that denervation impairs muscle growth in a dose-dependent manner, and that early reinnervation restores muscle growth and prevents contractures (Figure 2).

Understanding the mechanisms by which denervation impairs neonatal muscle growth is critical to preventing these contractures. Our laboratory is thus exploring multiple avenues to dissect the link between denervation, muscle growth, and contractures. Read more about our efforts by following the links below: