Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research

Researchers

Paige Thomas, PhD Candidate  (photo provided)
Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research
Department of Communication Disorders
University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Maggie Lee Huckabee
Director of the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research
Department of Communication Disorders
University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Current Research

Paige and the team are conducting a proof of concept study to assess the impact of swallowing skill training protocol in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Currently, patients with ALS are not considered candidates for rehabilitation of swallowing; this is therefore early research into the possible benefits of rehabilitation.

Paige Thomas

The therapy is a skill training protocol for swallowing through the Biofeedback in Strength and Skill Training (BiSSkiT) software. This protocol uses surface electromyography (sEMG) which measures muscle activity from the skins surface and displays it on a computer monitor. SEMG electrodes are placed over the submental muscles which contract during swallowing resulting in a peak in the waveform on the screen. With the use of sEMG, participants are able to visualise and alter their muscle activity while swallowing. To make this task challenging, a target box will appear in a random position on the screen and participants will attempt swallow so that the peak of their swallow waveform lands within the target box. This challenging aspect of the therapy is intended to help to encourage cortical control of swallowing.

Relationship to MND

The research investigates prolonging functional swallowing and quality of life in patients with the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis type of Motor Neuron Disease.

Future Research

The current research is a proof of concept study. Further research will be conducted into swallowing therapy in patients with ALS.

Collaborations

Paige and the team are collaborating with Dr. Sebastian Doeltgen from Flinders University and Dr. Deanna Britton from Portland State University, who is consulting on this project.

Resources

The MND Patient Registry and MND New Zealand are assisting with participant recruitment.

Resource Gaps

More funding for MND research would help to increase both the quantity and quality of MND research in New Zealand.

The Team

Prof. Maggie-Lee Huckabee, senior supervisor of research project, oversees all stages of planning and development of research as well as data collection and analysis. Director of the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research, University of Canterbury.

Dr. Phoebe Macrae, co-supervisor of research project. Deputy Director of the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research, University of Canterbury.

Dr. Michelle Troche, associate supervisor of research project, will oversee data collection in New York. Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Upper Airway Dysfunction, Columbia University.

The Rose Centre

Emma Burnip, Co-investigator, PhD candidate, performing data collection in New Zealand. Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research, University of Canterbury.

Contact

The University of Canterbury Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research
Leinster Chambers, Level One, 249 Papanui Road
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Paige Thomas
p: +64 3 369 2385
e: paige.thomas@pg.canterbury.ac.nz

Prof. Maggie-Lee Huckabee
p: +64 3 369 5124
e: Maggie-lee.huckabee@canterbury.ac.nz

Centre for Public Health Research

Grace Chen

Researchers

Grace Chen, Research Officer, PhD Candidate, Centre for Public Health Research, College of Health, Massey University.

Dr Dave McLean, Principal Investigator and Grace Chen’s supervisor

Professor Jeroen Douwes, Head of Department and Grace Chen’s supervisor

Professors Neil Pearce and Leonard van den Berg – overseas collaborators

Current Research

Grace and the team are conducting a New Zealand population based control study to investigate associations between occupational and environmental exposures and MND.

Relationship to MND

The aim of the study is to determine the relationship between MND and a range of unknown or suspected occupational and environmental exposures in New Zealand.

Future Research

The intention is to do more studies on MND after this study result has been published.

Collaborations

The Motor Neuron Disease Association New Zealand supports the recruitment for MND patients. The study also collaborated with the Centre for Brain Research (Scotter Lab) for the selected markers of the disease process.

Resources

Currently not using any shared resources, will share the database of the bio-markers of the disease process in New Zealand.

Resource Gaps

A formal diagnosis letter on the type of MND will help us to have a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

Contact Details

Centre for Public Health Research
Massey University
Wellington Campus
PO Box 756
Wellington 6140

e: g.chen1@massey.ac.nz
w: www.publichealth.massey.ac.nz
p: +64 4 801 5799 (63121) or +64  4 9793121