Spinal cord injury (SCI) has a devastating impact on quality of life. Many investigators, clinicians, and especially people with SCI identify bladder, bowel, and sexual functions as important targets for therapies. However, there remains a lack of available approaches for restoring these functions.

To serve this unmet need, my research focuses on developing devices that use electrical stimulation to restore pelvic autonomic function lost to SCI or other neurological disorders. Such devices would provide alternatives to surgeries or drugs.

I am particularly interested in the mechanisms of sensory feedback to control these functions. I envision an interface with the nervous system that provides access for stimulating sensory neurons to activate or inhibit spinal reflexes to control autonomic functions. This strategy would take advantage of existing spinal reflex circuits that remain following SCI.

Publications (Select)

Entire publication list can be found here.

  • Ereifej ES, Shell C, Schofield JS, Charkhkar H, Cuberovic I, Dorval AC, Graczyk EL, Kozai TDY, Otto KJ, Tyler DJ, Welle CG, Widge AS, Zariffa J, Moritz C, Bourbeau D, Marasco P. Neural engineering: the process, applications, and its role in the future of medicine. J Neural Eng. 2019 Sep 26.
  • Bourbeau DJ, Aamoth KR, Brose SB, Gustafson KJ. Electrical colon stimulation reflexively increases colonic activity. Neuromodulation. 2019 Aug 16.
  • Yeh SD, Lin BS, Chen SC, Chen CH, Gustafson KJ, Bourbeau DJ, Rajneesh CP, Peng CW. Effects of Genital Nerve Stimulation Amplitude on Bladder Capacity in Spinal Cord Injured Subjects. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Jun 24; 2019:1248342.
  • Wilson RD, Bryden AM, Kilgore KL, Makowski N, Bourbeau D, Kowalski KE, DiMarco AF, Knutson JS. Neuromodulation for Functional Electrical Stimulation. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2019 May; 30(2):301-318.
  • Bourbeau DJ, Creasey GH, Sidik S, Brose SW, Gustafson KJ. Genital nerve stimulation increases bladder capacity after SCI: A meta-analysis. J Spinal Cord Med. 2018 Jul;41(4):426–434. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1281372 Pubmed PMID: 28198657
  • Brose SW, Bourbeau DJ, Gustafson KJ. Genital nerve stimulation is tolerable and effective for bladder inhibition in sensate individuals with incomplete SCI. J Spinal Cord Med. 2018 Mar;41(2):174–181. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1279817 Pubmed PMID: 28185483
  • Bourbeau DJ, Gustafson KJ, Brose SW. At-home genital nerve stimulation for individuals with SCI and neurogenic detrusor overactivity: A pilot feasibility study. J Spinal Cord Med. 2018 Jan 15;1–11. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1422881 Pubmed PMID: 29334338
  • Brose SW, Montfort J, Gustafson KJ, Mittebrun I, Gauriloff S, Mosher M, Bourbeau DJUltrasound-Guided Steroid Injection of the Pisotriquetral Joint: A Multidisciplinary Effort. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Dec;96(12):904–907. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000773 Pubmed PMID: 28582272
  • Marasco PD, Bourbeau DJ, Shell CE, Granja-Vazquez R, Ina JG. The neural response properties and cortical organization of a rapidly adapting muscle sensory group response that overlaps with the frequencies that elicit the kinesthetic illusion. PLoS One. 2017;12(11):e0188559. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188559 Pubmed PMID: 29182648
  • Bourbeau DJ, Creasey GH, Sidik S, Brose SW, Gustafson KJ. Genital nerve stimulation increases bladder capacity after SCI: A meta-analysis. J Spinal Cord Med. 2017 Feb 15:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1281372. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28198657.
  • Brose SW, Bourbeau DJ, Gustafson KJ. Genital nerve stimulation is tolerable and effective for bladder inhibition in sensate individuals with incomplete SCI. J Spinal Cord Med. 2017 Feb 10:1-8. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1279817. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28185483.


Cleveland FES Center

Biomedical Engineer
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center

Staff Scientist
MetroHealth Medical Center

Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,
Case Western Reserve University


Program Contact
Dennis Bourbeau

Contact Number
(216) 791-3800 x 64845

Contact Email