Ela  Plow,  Ph.D., P.T.

Ela Plow, Ph.D., P.T.

Assistant Staff

Lerner Research Institute, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195
Location: ND2-109
Email: plowe2@ccf.org
Phone: (216) 445-4589
Fax: (216) 444-9198


Our laboratory’s research interests broadly include brain stimulation, motor control, neuroimaging, clinical neuroscience and rehabilitation. We have, thus far, focused on utilizing functional neuroimaging to discern substrates of movement control and movement relearning-related plasticity in the healthy vs. post-stroke brain to draw upon their significance for rehabilitation. Furthermore, using noninvasive brain stimulation, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), we have explored ways to harness plasticity within implicated substrates to promote recovery in stoke. Currently, we have expanded our research portfolio to include:

  • Understanding of normal aging- and disease-related neurodegenerative markers, particularly those affecting motor networks of the brain associated with movement dysfunction, using TMS
  • Modifying activity of motor networks to “stall” or alleviate neurodegenerative effects, in turn improving movement control with rehabilitation and training
  • Investigating whether neural substrates associated with training and rehabilitation can be modified adaptively using neuromodulation to supplement therapeutic benefit
We are addressing these themes across federally funded clinical trials, as well as projects sponsored by the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland and by industry. Specifically, studies in the laboratory include investigating neural substrates of neuromodulatory rehabilitation in motor recovery and sensory re-education after stroke, neuromodulation to re-establish memory in paralyzed muscles in spinal cord injury, aging- and training-related neural markers of strength in the elderly, and neurodegenerative markers of chemotherapy-induced fatigue in cancer.

In other words ...

Whether recovering from injury or in disease states, the brain's potential to change for the better or the worse – its “plasticity” – creates windows of opportunity to improve neurological outcomes.  In our research, we show that rehabilitation, movement re-learning, and noninvasive brain stimulation are simple tools that investigators and clinicians can use to harness the brain's potential for positive change. 

Bhatt [Plow] E, Nagpal A, Greer KH, Grunewald T, Steele JL, Wiemiller JW, Lewis SM, Carey JR.  Effect of Finger Tracking Combined with Electrical Stimulation on Brain Reorganization and Hand Function in Subjects with Stroke. Experimental Brain Research 2007;82(4):435-447. 

Plow EB, Carey JR, Nudo RN, Pascual-Leone A. Invasive Cortical Stimulation to Promote Recovery of Function After Stroke: A Critical Appraisal. Stroke 2009;40(5):1926-1931. 

Plow EB, Arora P, Pline MA, Binenstock MT, Carey JR. Within-limb Somatotopy in Primary Motor Cortex-revealed using fMRI. Cortex 2010;46(3):310-321. 

Plow EB, Obretenova SN, Fregni F, Pascual-Leone A, Merabet LB. Comparison of visual field training for hemianopia with active versus sham transcranial direct cortical stimulation. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair  2012;26(6):616-626.

06/06/2019 |  

$3M Grant to Test Novel Brain Stimulation Technique in Patients with Post-Stroke Paralysis

Lerner Research Institute’s Ela Plow, PhD, PT, recently received a 5-year, $3.11 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, to test an innovative combination of a novel therapies’ ability to restore arm and hand function in patients who have suffered upper limb paralysis following stroke. This therapy combines a new method of brain stimulation that targets the intact, or uninjured, hemisphere with a novel rehabilitation therapy.

05/07/2018 |  

Department of Defense Awards $2.5M for Improving Spinal Cord Injury in Rehabilitation

In the United States, more than 280,000 people—including 42,000 military veterans—are affected by spinal cord injury (SCI), including limb weakness and paralysis. While rehabilitation can be helpful, the benefits are slow and inadequate to restore patients' lost independence. A team of researchers at Cleveland Clinic is trying to speed recovery using noninvasive brain stimulation.