Research participant's arm in a machine designed for motor impairment study

Motor Impairment


Associate Investigators

Original Associate Investigators
We are grateful to be joined by a number of long-time and new collaborators for different parts of the Motor Impairment Program. We anticipate that others will join us as work progresses.

Professor Lynne BILSTON
Lynne is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Senior Principal Research Fellow at NeuRA, and Conjoint Professor in the Prince of Wales Clinical School at UNSW. Her research focuses on how mechanical forces are involved in physiological and pathophysiological processes in the body. This encompasses injury biomechanics, neural and other soft tissue biomechanics, and the development of novel imaging methods for making mechanical measurements in vivo.

Associate Professor Jane BUTLER
Jane is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Principal Research Fellow at NeuRA. Her research focuses on the neural control of human respiratory and limb muscles. She has a special interest in activation of paralysed muscles after spinal cord injury and will provide key expertise in neuromuscular stimulation and muscle testing of patients with spinal cord injury.

Associate Professor Jacqueline CLOSE
Jacqui is a Senior Staff Specialist in Geriatric Medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Director of the Falls and Injury Prevention Group at NeuRA. She is Co-Chair of the NSW ACT Aged Health Network. Her research areas include falls and fracture prevention including understanding risk factors for falls and development of approaches to intervention in people with cognitive impairment.

Kim is a Research Fellow at NeuRA and a leading international researcher in the fear of falling in older people. She has developed several screening tools and classification trees to help predict falls in older people. Her expertise on understanding disparities between neuropsychological factors and physical functioning will be important for the Program.

Lisa is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney. She has published widely in rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries, with a particular focus on randomised controlled trials to determine the effects of physical interventions. She will contribute key expertise to studies in contracture and spinal cord injury.

Glen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Human Movement Sciences at the University of Queensland. He has expertise in muscle physiology and muscle mechanics, and brings skills in three-dimensional motion analysis and advanced muscle biomechanics to the Program.

Dr Penelope McNULTY
Penelope is a Research Fellow at NeuRA and a Senior Lecturer at UNSW. She has longstanding interests in human motor control, sensory physiology and aging. She has expertise in a number of specialised research techniques and will be directly involved in the studies of stroke and hand function.

Professor Caroline (Lindy) RAE
Lindy is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at NeuRA, Director of Magnetic Resonance Research at NeuRA Imaging, and Professor of Brain Sciences at UNSW. She uses multidisciplinary approaches to study brain function with a major emphasis on brain biochemistry. She will provide expert advice on imaging studies for the Program.

Daina is a biomechanist and a Senior Research Officer at NeuRA where she has a major role in the Movement and Gait Analysis Laboratory. She studies
sensorimotor contributions to disturbances of balance, gait, voluntary and protective stepping in older people. She will bring her experimental and biomechanical skills to work on the clinical studies within the Program.

New Associate Investigators
Ben is a motor control and exercise physiologist and lecturer at UNSW. He studies how exercise can be prescribed to maintain mobility and health, and to counteract the effects of pain, fatigue and aging. He will be involved in a number of studies examining weakness, fatigue and the effects of training.

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Brain and Knee Muscle Weakness Study

Why Does Quadriceps Weakness Persist after Total Knee Replacement? An Exploration of Neurophysiological Mechanisms Total knee replacement is a commonly performed surgery for treating end-staged knee osteoarthritis. Although most people recover well after surgery, weakness of the quadriceps muscles (the front thigh muscles) persists long after the surgery (at least for 12 months), despite intensive physiotherapy and exercise. Quadriceps muscle weakness is known to be associated with more severe pain and greatly affect daily activities. This study aims to investigate the mechanisms underlying weakness of the quadriceps muscles in people with knee osteoarthritis and total knee replacement. We hope to better understand the relationship between the changes of the brain and a loss of quadriceps muscle strength after total knee replacement. The study might be a good fit for you if you: Scheduled to undergo a total knee replacement; The surgery is scheduled within the next 4 weeks; Do not have a previous knee joint replacement in the same knee; Do not have high tibial osteotomy; Do not have neurological disorders, epilepsy, psychiatric conditions, other chronic pain conditions; Do not have metal implants in the skull; Do not have a loss of sensation in the limbs. If you decide to take part you would: Be contacted by the researcher to determine your eligibility for the study Be scheduled for testing if you are eligible and willing to take part in the study Sign the Consent Form when you attend the first testing session Attend 3 testing sessions (approximately 2 hours per session): 1) before total knee replacement, 2) 3 months and 3) 6 months after total knee replacement. The testing will include several non-invasive measures of brain representations of the quadriceps muscles, central pain mechanisms, and motor function and questionnaires. Will I be paid to take part in the research study? You will be reimbursed ($50.00 per session) for travel and parking expenses associated with the research study visits. If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study, please contact: Name: Dr Wei-Ju Chang Email: Phone: 02 9399 1260 This research is being funded by the Physiotherapy Research Foundation.