Previous Pilot Projects
Research | Discovery | Innovation
Embedded Visuomotor Coordination
Dr. Aaron Likens
Rhythmic coordination serves as the basis for essential functions such as walking and chewing, but also facilitates other complex forms of behavior ranging from language production to interpersonal relationships. The proposed work focuses on a particular form of coordination known as visuomotor coordination – motor coordination constrained by visual perceptual variables.
- Many clinical populations have difficulty performing tasks that require visuomotor coordination. Results from the proposed research will inform how vision constrains motor coordination.
- These results could (1) be translated into rhythmic stimuli for clinical settings and (2) shed light on why some rhythmic stimuli are more effective than others in attenuating coordinative deficits, and ultimately, lead to new interventions.
Variability of Movement on an Altered Inertial Dynamics Task
Dr. Andreas Skiadopoulos
Dr. Skiadopoulos was able to secure just over $150K and two years of funding through the Nebraska Collaboration Initiative to continue this project.
Dr. Skiadopoulos's long-term goal is to investigate the effects of a simple lateral stepping gait training program designed to reduce step width variability and thus mitigate fall risk. This will be researched by using an intervention that can reduce this variability may reduce fall risk and lower the incidence of falls for older Veterans.
- Falls in the elderly are the leading cause of unintentional injury and hospitalization in people aged 65 years and older. Many people who fall, even those who are not injured, develop a fear of falling.
- Despite a strong evidence-base for effective intervention in this area and over a decade of promoting physical activity for older adults, hospitalization rates due to falls injuries in older people are still increasing.
- Stigma is placed upon an older person or group of seniors (fallers) who have or are anticipated to experience a fall that is associated with undesirable social judgment.
Variable Visual Stimulus as a Novel Approach for Gait Rehabilitation
Dr. Luis Silva
In this project, we propose an alternative approach to rehabilitation of gait disorders with respect to external cueing that takes the natural variability of healthy gait into account. We have previously shown that young and older adults when walking to an invariant stimulus, display diminished natural stride-to-stride fluctuations.
- Our central hypothesis is that older adults who are at risk of falling will demonstrate greater improvements in gait variability and adaptive gait tasks when walking with a Variable Visual Stimulus that reflects the variable movement patterns found in healthy gait.
- The impact of this project will be transformational regarding gait rehabilitation for older adults who are at risk of falls.
- This simple, cost-effective method would be accessible to all gait rehabilitation clinics requiring only ubiquitously available glasses
The Effect of Virtual Reality on Human Movement Variability
Dr. Joao Vaz
Dr. Vaz's long-term goal of this project aims to transform gait rehabilitation for vulnerable older adults at risk of falls due to poor gait performance and seeks to address a pressing need for an alternative approach to gait rehabilitation that takes the natural biological variability of healthy gait into account.
- A loss of complexity can refer to either an overly constrained, periodic system, or an overly random, incoherent system.
- By improving our understanding of ageing and disease/dysfunction, providing sensitive biomarkers for evaluating behavioral or pharmacological interventions, and designing novel interventions based on restoration of complexity, its actual impact in the field of rehabilitative medicine has been minimal.
- This project seeks to address this prohibitive knowledge gap.
Characterizing clinical and biomedical contributions to function following ACL reconstruction
Dr. Grindstaff's long-term goal is to improve patient function following knee joint injury and minimize the subsequent development of knee OA by systematically addressing underlying causes of quadriceps weakness and altered lower extremity biomechanics.
- Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading causes of disability in the US, affecting more than 30 million people (Cheng et al., 2010; Hootman et al., 2006); it carries an economic impact that exceeds $28 billion per year for total knee joint replacements alone (Murphy et al., 2012).
- Quadriceps weakness is a common impairment following ACL reconstruction (Hart et al., 2010; Ingersoll et al., 2008) and negatively impacts physical performance and patient-reported function (Schmitt et al., 2012).
- Quadriceps function is known to adversely impact gait and jumping biomechanics.
Older Adults' Gait Control: Impact of Cognition and Context while Dual-Tasking
Dr. Boron's long-term goal is to develop an intervention to reduce gait variability and improve gait stability in order to prevent falls and reduce fall risk in everyday life.
- Falls in older adulthood are a significant contributor to decreased quality of life.
- Fall prevention is a significant priority for older individuals and the larger community.
- Literature suggests that cognitive abilities experience normative decline with age, including skills such as visuspatial memory and aptial orientation.
Movement Variability, Cortical Activation and Cognitive Load in Ankle Instability
Dr. Rosen's long-term goal is to provide considerable insight into the persistent dysfunction associated with CAI. The information gained pertaining to movement variability and cortical activation will be used to guide new rehabilitation protocols in order to prevent recurring injury.
- Ankle sprains are the most common athletic injury at most levels of competition.
- In the United States, 23,000 people sprain their ankle daily and over half of those will fail to seek appropriate medical treatment.
- Recent studies have demonstrated complex abnormalities within the sensorimotor system contributing to the impairments observed in CAI.
- The quality of movement (i.e., motor variability) can provide valuable insights into the health of a system. The variability or natural, inherent fluctuations in movement represent the underlying physiologic capability of a system to adapt to the everyday stresses placed upon it.
Infant Physical Activity and Postural Control Variability in Relation to Obesity
Dr. Dinkel's long-term goal is to examine the relationship between levels of PA and postural control variability during the acquisition of sitting posture.
- Three months of age is a critical time period for preventing obesity.
- Infants who gain weight rapidly are at a greater risk of childhood obesity.
- Postural control changes the way infants interact with the world and facilitates development of other motor skills.
- There has been no research on the relationship between postural control variability and physical activity in overweight and healthy weight infants.
Nonlinear Analysis and Pattern Recognition of Variability in Physical Activity after Stroke
Dr. Lee's study will focus on determining the feasibility of utilizing variability in physical activity to create pattern recognition algorithms for differentiating chronic stroke survivors from healthy age matched controls.
- About 795,000 Americans suffer from a stroke each year. This results in health care costs of $36.5 billion.
- Physical activity (PA) of community-living stroke survivors is lower than that of older adults with their chronic health conditions of the musculoskeletal or cardiovascular system.
- Determining the difference in variability in PA between chronic stroke survivors and healthy age-matched controls.
Understanding Movement Variability among Patients on Antiretroviral Treatment for HIV
- Investigate the differences in movement variability between patients on EFV/FTC/TDF and patients on integrase-based ART (e.g., EVG/COBI/FTC/TDF).
- Determine if self-reported side effects are associated with changes in movement variability observed in the laboratory.
Novel Use of Environmental Temperature to Treat and Prevent Motor Related Disorder
Dr. Slivka's long-term goal is to develop a practical temperature optimized protocol to aid in the treatment of motor related disorder associated with mitochondrial and muscle dysfunction.
- Implications in future study designs using biopsy technique coupled with gait measurements.
- If temperature can alter gait variability, can temperature be used as a treatment for gait disorders?
- When taken with our previous research we will understand the origin of optimal stimuli for temperature optimized physical training and begin work to further translate this to a clinical setting.