Brain control of movement

RESEARCH STUDY

How the brain controls movement

We are looking for volunteers to participate in a study of how the brain controls movement and how the brain compensates when there is damage to brain regions that control movement.

To participate, you must be aged 50-70 years with no neurological condition or mental illness and live in either the Sydney or Adelaide metropolitan region.

We are also looking for individuals with:

  • restless legs syndrome
  • Parkinson’s disease

The study will involve an ultrasound of your head to obtain a picture of your brain. A neurologist will examine your movements and you will be asked to complete a short series of tests to assess thinking and memory. Some volunteers will then be asked to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic stimulation of the brain. Both procedures are safe, painless, and are routinely used in clinical and research settings.

 

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Abdominal muscle stimulation to improve bowel function in spinal cord injury

Bowel complications, resulting from impaired bowel function, are common for people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). As a result, people with a SCI have high rates of bowel related illness, even compared with those with other neurological disorders. This includes high rates of abdominal pain, constipation, faecal incontinence and bloating. These problems lower the quality of life of people with a SCI and place a financial burden on the health system. A treatment that improves bowel function for people with a SCI should reduce illness, improve quality of life and lead to a large cost saving for health care providers. Bowel problems have traditionally been managed with manual and pharmacological interventions, such as digital rectal stimulation, enemas, and suppositories. These solutions are usually only partially effective, highlighting the need for improved interventions. The abdominal muscles are one of the major muscle groups used during defecation. Training the abdominal muscles should improve bowel function by increasing abdominal pressure. During our previous Abdominal FES research with people with a SCI, we observed that Abdominal FES appeared to lead to more consistent and effective bowel motion. However, this evidence remains anecdotal. As such, we are going to undertake a large randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of Abdominal FES to improve the bowel function of people with a SCI. This study will make use of a novel measurement system (SmartPill, Medtronic) that can be swallowed to measure whole gut and colonic transit time. We will also assess whether Abdominal FES can change constipation-related quality of life and the use of laxatives and manual procedures, as well as the frequency of defecation and the time taken. A positive outcome from this study is likely to lead to the rapid clinical translation of this technology for people living with a SCI.
PROJECT