Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant
Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.
This series of studies will investigate:
The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).
This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation.
It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.
Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Phu Hoang, Dr Jasmine Menant
Gait dysfunction in Mulitple Sclerosis is an important risk factor for falls. Although there is detailed biomechanical evidence of impaired gait patterns in people with Multiple Sclerosis, there is a paucity of objective empirical data relating specific lower limb muscle strength deficits and gait impairments. Most studies to date have used manual muscle testing to investigate lower limb muscle strength and/or have only focused on knee flexors and extensors.
In this study, we aim to identify weak lower limb muscles contributing to gait impairment in Multiple Sclerosis.
Our experimental protocol involves a comprehensive assessment of isometric strength in eight major lower limb muscle groups using electronic strain gauges. We then conduct a full lower-limb gait analysis using motion capture and force platforms. We will conduct statistical analyses to determine which weak muscle groups are significantly associated with markers of gait impairment in Multiple Sclerosis (eg. knee range of motion during the gait cycle). We are also planning to use electromyography on the identified deficient muscle groups in a subset of participants.
Our research will identify the muscle groups contributing to poor gait, likely causing imbalance and trips in people with Multiple Sclerosis. This work is crucial for developing progressive resistance training programs that directly target weak muscle groups to improve gait in people with Multiple Sclerosis.