Dr Monzurul Alam

RESEARCHER PROFILE

Research Fellow

+61 426 604383


Monzurul Alam is a researcher with solid knowledge in neuroscience, rehabilitation, and biomedical engineering. He specializes in spinal cord injury repair, neuroprosthetics, and sensorimotor control of movements.

He received his Masters in Bioengineering from Miguel Hernandez University of Elche and Ph.D. from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He also received Postdoctoral training in neuromodulation from Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton’s laboratory at the University of California – Los Angeles. Before joining the NeuroRecovery Research Hub at the University of New South Wales – Sydney, he was a Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He also worked as a Research Fellow at Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology, National University of Singapore where he conducted research on building neural bypasses for human and non-human primates.

Dr. Alam’s research is grounded in fundamentals in the field of system neuroscience with applications to prosthetics and rehabilitation following injuries in the central and/or peripheral nervous system. His major research interest is on sensory and motor control of movements. Dr. Alam’s key research aim is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying the function and recovery after injuries of the sensorimotor system. Electrophysiology, pharmacology and neurostimulation are the common techniques applied in his research. He also applies modern engineering techniques to utilize this neural system for prosthetic applications.

Projects Dr Monzurul Alam is currently involved with

CURRENT PROJECTS

The RESTORE Trial: Immersive Virtual Reality Treatment for Restoring Touch Perception in People with

Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, Prof James Middleton, A/Prof Zina Trost, Prof Ashley Craig, Prof Jim Elliott, Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati, Corey Shum and James Stanley

While recognition of surviving pathways in complete injuries has tremendous implications for SCI rehabilitation, currently no effective treatments exist to promote or restore touch perception among those with discomplete SCI. The proposed study will address this need by developing and testing a novel intervention that can provide touch restoration via the primary source of sensory perception: the brain.Complete spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with a complete loss of function such as mobility or sensation. In a recent discovery we revealed that 50% of people with complete SCI still have surviving somatosensory nerve fibres at the level of the spine. For those with complete SCI this is hopeful news as it means — contrary to previous belief that communication to the brain had been severed by injury — that the brain is still receiving messages. This new SCI type is labelled “discomplete SCI” — a SCI person who cannot feel touch, but touch information is still forwarded from the foot to the brain.

The project will use virtual reality (VR) in a way it has never been used before. We will develop the first immersive VR interface that simultaneously enhances surviving spinal somatosensory nerve fibres and touch signals in the brain in an effort to restore touch perception in people with discomplete SCI. In other words, immersive VR is being used to re-train the brain to identify the distorted signals from toe to head as sensation (touch). For example, participants will receive touch simulation in the real world (e.g., their toe) while at the same time receiving corresponding multisensory touch stimuli in the virtual world (e.g., experiencing walking up to kick a ball).

This project is the first effort worldwide to restore touch sensation in 50% of individuals with complete injuries. The outcomes to be achieved from the current study will represent a cultural and scientific paradigmatic shift in terms of what can be expected from life with a spinal cord injury. In addition, the project allows potential identification of brain mechanisms that may ultimately represent direct targets for acute discomplete SCI rehabilitation, including efforts to preserve rather than restore touch perception following SCI.

RESTORE consolidates the expertise of scientists, clinicians, VR developers and stakeholders from NeuRA and UNSW School of Psychology (A/Prof Sylvia Gustin, Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati), John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Kolling Institute and University of Sydney (Prof James Middleton, Prof Ashley Craig and Prof Jim Elliott), Virginia Commonwealth University (A/Prof Zina Trost), Immersive Experience Laboratories LLC (Director Corey Shum) and James Stanley.

If you are interested in being contacted about the RESTORE trial, please email A/Prof Sylvia Gustin (s.gustin@unsw.edu.au) and include your name, phone number, address, type of SCI (e.g., complete or incomplete), level of injury (e.g., T12) and duration of SCI (e.g., 5 years).

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The RESTORE Trial: Immersive Virtual Reality Treatment for Restoring Touch Perception in People with Discomplete Paraplegia

The STOPain Study: Using brain-computer-interface intervention for people with neuropathic pain

Chronic pain is a significant problem worldwide affecting nearly 8 million Australians. Unfortunately, despite the availability of analgesics and other pain therapies, no treatment has been found that benefits the majority of individuals, and most of the available treatments have significant side effects or risks for serious adverse events, e.g. kidney failure.

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The STOPain Study: Using brain-computer-interface intervention for people with neuropathic pain

A Multi-Site Randomized Clinical Trial to Examine the Efficacy and Mechanisms of Immersive Virtual W

Chronic neuropathic pain (NP) can be a debilitating secondary condition for persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and effective pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments remain elusive. This project brings together international experts in basic science and clinical approaches to SCI NP for a rigorous multisite randomized clinical trial to examine the efficacy and mechanisms of an advanced interactive virtual reality (VR) walking intervention (VRWalk).

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A Multi-Site Randomized Clinical Trial to Examine the Efficacy and Mechanisms of Immersive Virtual Walking Treatment for Neuropathic Pain in Spinal Cord Injury

RESEARCH TEAM

THIAGO FOLLY Research Assistant

NELL NORMAN-NOTT PhD Student

BROOKE NAYLOR Masters Student, Clinical Psychology

DANIEL HULTBERG Medical Student

ANTON PAULSON Medical Student

DAVID KANG Medical Student

PAULINE ZAHARA Clinical Trial Manager

PUBLICATIONS

Restoration of arm and hand functions via noninvasive cervical cord neuromodulation after traumatic brain injury: a case study.

Qian Q, Ling YT, Zhong H, Zheng YP, Alam M

Reversing 21 years of chronic paralysis via non-invasive spinal cord neuromodulation: a case study.

Alam M, Ling YT, Wong AYL, Zhong H, Edgerton VR, Zheng YP

The objective of the current study was to investigate if a non-invasive spinal cord neuromodulation modality could restore sensorimotor functions in a patient with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Spinal Cord Injury: Lessons about Neuroplasticity from Paired Associative Stimulation.

Ling YT, Alam M, Zheng YP
View all publications