NeuRA Highlights Importance of Research on World Cerebral Palsy Day

Friday, 6 October 2017: Cerebral Palsy is the leading form of physical disability in Australian children with over 34,000 Australians living with the impairment. Research at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) is focussed on understanding muscle contracture in children with cerebral palsy. 

Muscle contracture describes the stiffening of a muscle even when the muscle is passive. It is commonly associated with neurological conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis. As part of a research team led by Professor Rob Herbert, Arkiev D’Souza is using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to look at muscle contracture in the lower leg.

“DTI is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technique which has been used increasingly over the last decade to study skeletal muscle” said D’Souza.

“It is not yet known whether contracture is a result of changes in the muscle, changes in the associated tendon, or a combination of both.

“DTI allows us to investigate the three dimensional structure of muscle in unprecedented detail. This will help identify the structural changes that accompany contracture in children with cerebral palsy.”

In Cerebral Palsy, impairment can range from weakness in a single part of the body to a near complete lack of voluntary control of the body. Deputy Director of NeuRA, Professor Simon Gandevia, is proud to see NeuRA leading motor impairment research in Cerebral Palsy.

“Understanding the mechanisms which cause muscle contracture in children living with Cerebral Palsy will help to guide novel intervention strategies,” said Prof Gandevia.

“This research may help to create new techniques to decrease the level of motor impairment caused by muscle contracture.”

The study which began in January of 2017 will look at the architecture of 20 children living with Cerebral Palsy and 20 typically developing children. The study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.