Current research topics:
Control properties of single motor units
Motoneurons provide the "final common pathway" between the central nervous system and muscle. Thus, understanding how motoneurons respond to the signals they receive is important for understanding the role they play in the control of movement. This work aims to explore the extent to which the excitability of human motoneurons changes during different tasks that are designed to increase or decrease motoneuron excitability by altering levels of neuromodulators in the spinal cord. This work contributes to our basic understanding of how the nervous system controls human movement.
Reducing fatigue of contractions produced by neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)
NMES is used to restore function and/or provide exercise opportunities for individuals experiencing partial or complete muscle paralysis. Unfortunately, the benefits of such programs are limited by rapid fatigue of the evoked contractions, which is due in part to the un-natural way that NMES generates contractions. This work is designed to identify how to deliver NMES to produce contractions in ways that more closely mimic how muscle is recruited during voluntary contractions. The goal of this work is to minimise fatigue of electrically-evoked contractions to improve outcomes of NMES-based rehabilitation programs.
Strengthening corticospoinal pathways using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)
An well-known, but unexpected, outcome of the long term use of NMES has been an improvement in voluntary control of the stimulated muscle in some individuals. It is thought that at least part of this improvement is due to a strengthening of the pathways from the brain to the stimulated muscle (corticospinal pathway). The goal of this work is to identify how to deliver NMES to best strengthen corticospinal pathways and maximise this improvement in function.