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MRC News

Wilson Foundation receives major gift for robotics research 

Published on January 29, 2018

Even though he's wearing a halo brace to stabilize his neck, Vicksburg resident Rodney Allen is able to participate in therapy on the ErigoPro robotic device at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. The device offers an early and safe means for patients to work on blood pressure stabilization, muscle strength and cardiovascular training, said MRC physical therapist Chris McGuffey, at left. And its use in both research and therapy is being supported by the new Yerger NeuroRobotics Research Fund at Methodist Rehab.

A $750,000 gift to the Wilson Research Foundation at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson will launch new robotics research and education initiatives at the Jackson hospital. 

The gift from Linda and Wirt Yerger III of Ridgeland will establish the Yerger NeuroRobotics Research Fund. The aim is to improve the application of robotic therapy for those who have suffered stroke, brain or spinal cord injuries.

“It is an honor to support the Wilson Foundation’s work to improve function and quality of life for people through technology and innovation,” said Wirt Yerger III. “Linda and I have had many friends and loved ones helped by Methodist Rehab over the years, and we are excited about the potential of these robotic therapies.”   

The gift will support the salaries of a multidisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in rehabilitation engineering, biomechanics and neurophysiology. Research studies and therapist education will focus on use of three recently acquired robotic therapy systems for improving circulation, walking and arm function following a disabling illness or injury.  

“This gift will significantly advance our research and educational mission,” said Dobrivoje Stokic, M.D., administrative director of research at MRC. “In addition to innovative clinical research, this will ensure that researchers work side-by-side with the hospital’s physical and occupational therapists, as well as engineering and exercise science students from Mississippi universities, on translating innovations in rehabilitation technologies to day-to-day clinical care.”

“We are deeply grateful to Linda and Wirt for this gift,” said Mark Adams, MRC president and CEO. “This is a gift that has long reach because new knowledge generated by our research team will be immediately transferred to therapists who treat over a thousand inpatients at Methodist Rehab each year.  Also, our research program is a catalyst for attracting top research and clinician talent to Mississippi, and this gift will magnify those efforts for years to come.”

The donor-supported Wilson Research Foundation funds MRC research, resulting in 276 publications and national recognition for the center. For more information, visit