Digitally created arm showing muscles, bones, veins and arteries

Improving hand function after stroke

RESEARCH STUDY

Stroke often affects both our ability of our hands to feel and our ability to contract muscles. Sensory and motor functions are tightly linked. Yet, most rehabilitation strategies aimed at regaining dexterity after stroke largely focus only on motor recovery.

We have previously found that some stroke patients have a disorganised touch perception map. When a patient is touched in one location on the hand while their eyes are closed, they feel it in some other location.  There is little awareness of this condition, and it is generally not detected during routine neurological examination as even patients themselves are not aware of it.

Our recent study revealed that it is possible to correct this scrambled map, leading to improved motor functioning. This new evidence means that we can now focus on creating new rehabilitation strategies that can help patients to regain normal sensation and fine motor skill after a stroke.

If you would like to obtain information how to volunteer in research on stroke please contact Dr Ingvars Birznieks, Tel 9399 1672, i.birznieks@neura.edu.au

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Caress the Detail: A Comprehensive MRI Atlas of the in Vivo Human Brain

This project aims to deliver the most comprehensive, detailed and stereotaxically accurate MRI atlas of the canonical human brain. In human neuroscience, researchers and clinicians almost always investigate images obtained from living individuals. Yet, there is no satisfactory MRI atlas of the human brain in vivo or post-mortem. There are some population-based atlases, which valiantly solve a number of problems, but they fail to address major needs. Most problematically, they segment only a small number of brain structures, typically about 50, and they are of limited value for the interpretation of a single subject/patient. In contrast to population-based approaches, the present project will investigate normal, living subjects in detail. We aim to define approximately 800 structures, as in the histological atlas of Mai, Majtanik and Paxinos (2016), and, thus, provide a “gold standard” for science and clinical practice. We will do this by obtaining high-resolution MRI at 3T and 7T of twelve subjects through a collaboration with Markus Barth from the Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland (UQ). The limited number of subjects will allow us to image each for longer periods, obtaining higher resolution and contrast, and to invest the required time to produce unprecedented detail in segmentation. We will produce an electronic atlas for interpreting MR images, both as a tablet application and as an online web service. The tablet application will provide a convenient and powerful exegesis of brain anatomy for researchers and clinicians. The open access web service will additionally provide images, segmentation and anatomical templates to be used with most common MR-analysis packages (e.g., SPM, FSL, MINC, BrainVoyager). This will be hosted in collaboration with UQ, supporting and complementing their population-based atlas.
PROJECT