Thursday, 17 April 2014

Professor Sue Mawson's Reflections following the International workshop on Muscle Synergies, Venice.

I was asked to give a lecture at the International workshop on Muscle Synergies WCNR (Italy) and Training Event on Stroke rehabilitation April 3-5 2014. The event was held at the Fondazione Ospedale San Camillo in Vencie and extraodrinary hospital with 100 inpatient beds solely for neurologically impaired patients. The rehabilitaion department was extensive with a number of laboratories for research activites including a virtual reality suit, upper and lower limb robotics and balance master. The availability of patients together with the laboratories make this a valuable research partner for internaiotnal collaborations. My only reflection was that this seemed rather disconnected to the world that stroke survivors, my main area of work, would live months and years after their stroke.
Research laboratory

The key note lecture for the main event was given by Professor Emellio Bizzi (MIT, USA) a wonderful account of his life's work in the field of motor control (title ‘On the functional organization and operational principles of the motor system’) ending his talk with a description of new techniques being used to explore the structures and functions of micro systems within the spinal cord (central pattern generators) and the brain. There were a number of other basic science talks given by leading researchers in the field of motor sysnergies or motor patterns, a more commonly used term in  the UK. Whilst these talks were facinating particlarly those given by Professor Vincent Cheung, Professor Trevor Drew, Professor Jason Kutch and Professor Kautz I was constantly reflecting during the lecturers on the implications of the science for rehabilitation strategies both in acute and long term management and why there was little mentioned about the motor patterns or synergies involving the scapula or pelvis. Indeed, there was little discussion or consideration of the activity of core stabilisers in the trunk the key underpinning postural basis for motor controlled activities in the upper and lower limbs. Whilst the international workshop aimed to ‘introduce a debate on current state of the art in the field with eminent scientists in the field providing best evidence in basic science’ the clinical application seemed absent as did leaders in the field of neurological rehabilitation working in the applied health services arena.
Andrea Turolla (left) and Prof Sue Mawson

In order for me to understand more about this advancing field in laboratory animal and human studies I need to run a workshop at the University of Sheffield where my PhD student, Andrea Turolla a physiotherapist working in the laboratories in Vencice, can present and discuss his work in the field with colleagues from SHU sports engineering laboratories, senior physiotherapist and lecturers in neuro rehabilitation.

Written by Professor Sue Mawson

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