Lab News

Doctoral student I-ling Yeh receives doctoral dissertation grant

Lab member and doctoral candidate I-ling Yeh has been awarded the School of Kinesiology’s second annual 2016-17 Doctoral Dissertation Award. Ms. Yeh is advised by Jürgen Konczak. The title of her dissertation project is, “Can proprioception be improved and enhance motor function after stroke? Effectiveness of a novel robotic-aided training in adults with chronic stroke.” The award will provide a full research assistantship for the next academic year. I-ling also received a second grant from the CEHD Women's Philantropic Leadership Circle to support her disertation research.



Lab receives grant to translate robotic rehabilitation technologyJuergen Konczak

Jürgen Konczak is the principal investigator of a grant from MN-REACH, a joint initiative between the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the University of Minnesota. REACH, or the Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub, is an NIH-administered, national program seeking to facilitate and accelerate the translation of biomedical innovations into commercial products that improve patient care and enhance health. The aim of the grant is to advance the commercialization of the Wristbot, a robotic system for the diagnosis and physical rehabilitation of sensory and motor dysfunction of the wrist and hand.



Proprioceptive development in childrenFrontiers in Neuroscience

The development of proprioception in children has been largely unmapped. We recently published two papers that assessed position sense of the forarm and wrist in children. Jessica Holst-Wolf, is the first author of a paper published in Frontiers of Neuroscience that measured proprioceptive acuity of the forearm in a large cohort of 5-18 year-old children.Together with colleagues from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), we systematically investigated the wrist position sense of children using using a robotic exoskeleton called Wristbot. Both reports are published as open access: Holst-Wolf et al. Front Neurosci 2016) Marini et al. J Neuroeng & Rehab (2017)


Passive motion apparatus Impaired body awareness in a voice disorder

We examined the sense of body awareness (proprioception) in adults with the voice disorder spasmodic dysphonia. Specifically, we assessed the ability of patients to sense the position of their arm in space. We use a specialized equipment, a passive motion apparatus, that very slowly rotates the forearm (see the photo to your right). The results indicate that impaired limb proprioception is a common feature of spasmodic dysphonia. Like other forms of focal dystonia, spasmodic dystonia does affect the somatosensation of non-dystonic muscle systems. A summary of the finidngs will appear in the Journal of Voice. This research was funded through a grant by the National Institutes of Health. For a free copy of the NIH public access document click here: Konczak et al. (2015)


CerebellumCan proprioceptive training help to improve motor function in cerebellar ataxia?

Cerebellar ataxia affects the coordination and control of gait, posture, upper limb movements, oculomotor function and speech. Ataxia results from focal lesions, such as a stroke, or from a progressive neurodegenerative process. Degenerative cerebellar disease leads to a progressive loss of motor function. With few exceptions, no genetic or pharmacological treatment is available for patients with cerebellar degeneration to stop the disease. In collaboration with colleagues in Germany we will investigate if limb motor function of patients with a neurodegenerative cerebellar disorder can improve through a regime of proprioceptive training, that exploits intact explicit memory mechanisms. This project is an international collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Essen and Kiel in Germany and is funded through a grant fromt the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (German Science Foundation).


Movement DisordersDeep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease improves haptic perception

Haptic perception relates to one's ability to perceive properties of objects through active touch. For example, one perceives the roundess of a cylinder while moving the hand around it. In everyday life, we use vision and haptics to find things out about the objects that we manipulate. In a new study we investigated to what extent haptic perception becomes impaired in Parkinson's disease(PD) and whether deep brain stimulation (DBS) can restore haptic precision in PD patients. A main finding of the study is that haptic acuity degrades in PD, but that DBS partially restores the precision of haptic sensing. That is, DBS has a beneficial effect on haptic perception. The results will be published in the journal Movement Disorders. Joshua Aman, a former postdoctoral researcher in the lab is the lead author of the publication.

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