Participate in Research Advancing our understanding and treatment of motor impairment

NeuRA has secured significant funding to expand research into motor impairment, a problem that arises from many diseases and aging, and a growing public health challenge.

Everything the human body does requires movement, but our muscles—and our brain and nerves that control them—are often the first tissues attacked by a long list of disorders that includes stroke, spinal cord and brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal injury and cerebral palsy.

Research into motor impairments is now a national priority

Prof Simon Gandevia is an expert in the brain’s control of human movement at NeuRA (Neuroscience Research Australia) and will spearhead the nearly $7 million multidisciplinary program of study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

“Motor impairment encompasses muscle weakness and paralysis, reduced movement at our joints, diminished sensation across the body and a loss of balance. Motor impairments can arise because of many different diseases, making it a major cause of disability world-wide,” Prof Gandevia said.

“We know about some forms of impairment, but nothing about others. This is an under-researched area of medicine and this grant will allow us to fill gaps in our knowledge and develop and trial new treatments,” Prof Gandevia said.

Motor impairments affect a large number of Australians, and as our population ages, incidence is predicted to grow. For example, 1 in 3 elderly people fall each year, often because of problems with mobility and their balance and sensory systems.

However, another leading causes of motor impairment is stroke. Around 4 million Australians will suffer a stroke in their lifetime and half will go on to develop disabling muscle stiffening and problems in their affected arm or leg.

Current muscle therapies for these stroke survivors are limited and improving our understanding and treatments for motor impairments such as these will bring huge benefits.

“We will focus on both scientific and clinical outcomes. Our team will begin by studying everyday functions that people take for granted, such as standing, balancing and using our hands. We will study these abilities in people suffering different diseases and develop therapies to help restore function and improve quality of life,” Prof Gandevia concluded.

Follow @MotorImpairment on Twitter to receive updates from the research team and learn more about this field.

Meet the researchers involved in this study
  • Prof Simon Gandevia is the Deputy Director of NeuRA and an expert in clinical neurophysiology.
  • Prof Stephen Lord is a research leader in accidental falls and ageing; his book on falls in older people is considered the seminal text on the subject.
  • Prof Rob Herbert has pioneered the use of randomized control studies to assess the effectiveness of physical therapies in people recovering from motor impairment.
  • Assoc Prof Janet Taylor is an expert in human motor physiology and fatigue.