COLUMBIA, Mo. -- When a limb is lost or absent from birth, patients have different strategies that can be used for rehabilitation. However, this rehabilitation can be mentally exhausting and extremely painful in some cases, and scientists are looking for ways to improve the rehabilitation experience. Now, with the help of a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, one University of Missouri researcher will use the MU Brain Imaging Center to look for insights into the mental and physical discomfort that patients experience in an effort to improve current rehabilitation strategies. This is part of a collaboration with colleagues at the Christine M. Kleinert Institute in Louisville, Ky., which includes individuals who have undergone hand reattachments as well as recipients of hand transplants.
"Our goal is to learn about changes in brain organization and behavior that occur as the result of limb loss or congenital absence," said Scott Frey, professor of psychological sciences and director of the Brain Imaging Center. "These include changes associated with absence of a hand and with increased use of the remaining hand."
Currently, Frey is looking for volunteers, ages 18-70, who have lost, or been born without, an arm or hand, for the study designed to advance the understanding of brain reorganization. Participants, who are being sought regionally, will undergo functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while they perform movements and experience sensory stimuli. Unilateral amputees also will undergo testing of intact hand functions and will have an opportunity to participate in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to evaluate changes in connections between the brain and the hand. Volunteers will receive $30 per hour for their time. Travel expenses, meals and lodging also will be covered.
"The reorganizational changes that take place in the brain following the loss of a limb may play a variety of chal
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University of Missouri-Columbia