Selecting the right (measurement) tool for the job

“New study reveals the average height of Australian adults is 100 cm… …when measured with a metre stick.”   While the flaw in this fictitious study is easy to address, selecting an appropriate measurement tool to capture something as complex as motor impairment is not so easy. Many health conditions can lead to motor impairment […]


Running Clock

Benefits of very short high-intensity training

The personal health and economic burden of physical inactivity is receiving justifiably growing recognition.  This burden may be greatest for the elderly where the gap between recommended levels of physical activity and actual activity is most pronounced.  This gap was recently highlighted in a national analysis of Australian health (Australia’s Health 2014).  But what should […]

Personalized medicine and ‘everything-omics’

The case for ‘personalized medicine’ is promulgated more and more, but one difficulty is that what the term means is often unclear. To some it means no more than a personal appraisal by your local medical practitioner but to others it means the sequencing of your genome in whole or part (e.g. Buford & Pahor, […]

Individualized medicine

Radiography of a wrist fracture

Who gets Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a disabling condition that causes motor impairment. It is common after wrist fracture. Little is known about the epidemiology of CRPS and there has been very little research into prevention and treatment of CRPS. We sought to (a) determine the incidence of CRPS, and (b) identify people at high […]

Electrical stimulation exercise in advanced multiple sclerosis

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are generally less active than the general population which may lead to deconditioning that further reduces functional abilities. Regular exercise is beneficial for managing many MS symptoms and reversing deconditioning due to inactivity (Dalgas U, Stenager E, Ingemann-Hansen 2008). However, persons with advanced MS may find exercise very difficult due […]

Dr Fornusek and a participant with MS prepare to begin a session of electrical stimulation cycling.

Neuroimaging the brain areas activated by muscle and cutaneous afferents

Inputs from specialised cutaneous and muscle afferents are crucial for tactile manipulation and accurate movement and postural control.  Both sets of afferents project to the cerebral cortex and contribute to proprioceptive senses (e.g. Proske & Gandevia, 2012).  We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the cortical activation produced by cutaneous versus muscle inputs arising from […]

Activations in response to muscle stimulation. Group brain activation in response to stimulation of the motor point of the right first dorsal interosseus muscle. The axial/horizontal sections in the upper row show activation areas at the sensorimotor cortex. Sections in the middle row show activation areas in the second sensory area, thalamus, and insula. Sections in the lower row show activation areas in the right and midline cerebellum, including the nucleus (dentate).

Participant seated in the experimental apperatus. Visible are the leather sleeve and metal occluder positioned on the participant's left forearm. The skin on either side of the metal occluder was brushed (not pictured), and the effect this had on touch localization was assessed by participants pointing on a digitizing table (gray divider between the subject's body and left arm) where they felt the tactile target.

How do we know the location of something we feel on our skin?

When we are touched on the skin, sensory receptors in that location fire and send a signal via nerves to the brain, but this is not enough to let us know where on our body the touch occurred. To decipher where the touch is on the body, the brain needs some kind of map of […]

The effects of fatigue on reaction time in people with multiple sclerosis

People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) often report fatigue and reduced capacity for walking as some of their most disabling symptoms (1-3). Indeed, fatigue is often reported after relatively short bouts of walking. However, the functional consequences of this fatigue are not well known. We were interested in how walking might impair motor functions that are […]

An example of a single trial of the Choice Stepping Reaction-time Test.

Magnetic resonance elastography, an MRI-based technique, relies on the principle that the propagation of a vibration wave through tissue depends on its mechanical properties. In upper airway elastography, a vibration from a mouth guard propagates through bones into the tongue and soft palate. The top panel identifies the key anatomical structures and the two lower panels show the elastic properties for a normal subject and a matched obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patient. Note the lower stiffness in the tongue of the OSA patient. Dashed lines outline the tongue and soft palate.

The human upper airway and its neuromechanical behaviour

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common disorder which is linked to increased incidence of stroke, myocardial infarction and heart failure (for review see Jordan et al 2014).  However, the fundamental neuromotor control of the upper airway is poorly understood, perhaps because of its structural and neural complexity.  Recently a series of reviews tackled critical central […]