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Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati (BSc and MSc in biomedical engineering, PhD in medical sciences) is an early career postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Pain IMPACT at NeuRA. She has recently been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for two years. The Neilsen Foundation is a renowned US foundation dedicated to support research to improve the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Negin started a postdoctoral position in 2019, as a part of A/Prof Gustin’s group and received a project grant from the Frontiers Technology Clinical Academic Group. Her project is focused on developing a Brain-Computer Interface as a neurofeedback system to reduce neuropathic pain in people with SCI. This approach is a novel intervention in which individuals will be trained to gain control over their maladaptive brain activity in a way that results in pain reduction.
In 2014, she was awarded a UNSW International Postgraduate Award for PhD, and a NeuRA supplementary award. Her thesis was titled “Neurophysiological and kinematic correlates of improved motor-function in complex therapy movements in chronic stroke”. She developed multiple quantitative approaches to investigate the correlates and potential predictors of changes in chronic stroke.
Researchers: Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, Nell-Norman-Nott, Dr Negin Hesam- Shariati, Dr. Chelsey Wilks (University of Washington).
Emerging evidence has shown that negative emotional states play a key role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. The No Worries Trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a four-week internet-delivered Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills training to help chronic pain sufferers cope with painful, fearful, worrisome, anxious, and negative thoughts and emotions. Moreover, by having the DBT skills training online it is more accessible to those in remote communities, to those with restricted mobility, and more broadly it adds to the knowledge of internet-delivered therapies at a time when online is increasingly necessary to deliver treatment due to COVID-19.
NELL NORMAN-NOTT Honours Student Psychology
BROOKE NAYLOR Masters Student, Clinical Psychology
DANIEL HULTBERG Medical Student
ANTON PAULSON Medical Student
DAVID KANG Medical Student
Fine motor control is achieved through the coordinated activation of groups of muscles, or "muscle synergies." Muscle synergies change after stroke as a consequence of the motor deficit. We investigated the pattern and longitudinal changes in upper limb muscle synergies during therapy in a largely unconstrained movement in patients with a broad spectrum of poststroke residual voluntary motor capacity. Electromyography (EMG) was recorded using wireless telemetry from 6 muscles acting on the more-affected upper body in 24 stroke patients at early and late therapy during formal Wii-based Movement Therapy (WMT) sessions, and in a subset of 13 patients at 6-month follow-up. Patients were classified with low, moderate, or high motor-function. The Wii-baseball swing was analyzed using a non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) algorithm to extract muscle synergies from EMG recordings based on the temporal activation of each synergy and the contribution of each muscle to a synergy. Motor-function was clinically assessed immediately pre- and post-therapy and at 6-month follow-up using the Wolf Motor Function Test, upper limb motor Fugl-Meyer Assessment, and Motor Activity Log Quality of Movement scale. Clinical assessments and game performance demonstrated improved motor-function for all patients at post-therapy (p < 0.01), and these improvements were sustained at 6-month follow-up (p > 0.05). NMF analysis revealed fewer muscle synergies (mean ± SE) for patients with low motor-function (3.38 ± 0.2) than those with high motor-function (4.00 ± 0.3) at early therapy (p = 0.036) with an association trend between the number of synergies and the level of motor-function. By late therapy, there was no significant change between groups, although there was a pattern of increase for those with low motor-function over time. The variability accounted for demonstrated differences with motor-function level (p < 0.05) but not time. Cluster analysis of the pooled synergies highlighted the therapy-induced change in muscle activation. Muscle synergies could be identified for all patients during therapy activities. These results show less complexity and more co-activation in the muscle activation for patients with low motor-function as a higher number of muscle synergies reflects greater movement complexity and task-related phasic muscle activation. The increased number of synergies and changes within synergies by late-therapy suggests improved motor control and movement quality with more distinct phases of movement.