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