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.
Konczak publishes with colleagues from Singapore and Italy
The scientific journal PLOS One published a new paper entitled “Robot-aided Mapping of Wrist Proprioceptive Acuity Across a 3D Workspace”. Jürgen Konczak, director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab is coauthor, together with colleagues from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). Francesca Marini, a doctoral student from IIT is the first author. This study performed an extensive and systematic investigation of the human wrist position sense with the aim to systematically map wrist proprioceptive acuity of the wrist/hand complex using a robotic exoskeleton called Wristbot. The report is published as open access: Marini et al. PLOS One (2016)
How effective can proprioception be trained?
Can the proprioceptive sense be trained? If so, what type of improvements can be observed and how will changes in proprioceptive function relate to improvements in motor function? For what type of diseases would such type of training be beneficial. These questions were addressed in a systematic review on the effectiveness of proprioceptive training that reviewed over 1250 studies. The report is published in the open access journal Frontiers of Human Neuroscience. For a direct link to the article click here: Aman et al. (2015)
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)
Can 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).
Deep 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.