The purpose of this grant is to enable Dr. Madeleine Lowery to establish herself as an independent researcher in a new position in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, University College Dublin. Dr. Lowery has recently returned to Ireland having spent the previous five years in biomedical engineering research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University, Chicago, USA.
The grant will provide support for a PhD student who will work on the proposed research project and will enable necessary experimental equipment to be purchased. The experimental laboratory which will be established and the data collected will form the basis for future studies by the new Neuromuscular Systems Research Group. The specific aim of this study is to examine the origin and functional significance of oscillatory inputs to muscle during isometric contractions using a combination of simulation and experimental methods.
The proposed study will
- experimentally test hypothesis suggested by simulation studies previously conducted by Dr. Lowery
- extend the simulation models to provide further insight into the relationship between shared neuromuscular inputs and surface electromyography and
- apply the insights gained to examine the effect of sympathetic nervous system activity on shared neuromuscular inputs.
The proposed project is interdisciplinary in nature and will employ engineering methods, specifically computational modelling and signal processing, to address fundamental questions about human nervous system control of voluntary movement.
An improved understanding of the role and functional significance of neuromuscular drives, and more accurate methods of measuring and characterizing them, will help researchers interpret the motor control changes that occur in healthy and diseased states. This will ultimately lead to the development of improved neuromuscular rehabilitation and training strategies.
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