Faculty & Staff

Dave-Collins---Associate-Professor

Dave Collins

Professor

Physical Education and Recreation

About Me

Degrees
PhD (Neuroscience), University of Alberta, 1998
MSc (Neuroscience), University of Guelph, 1990
BSc (Human Kinetics),  University of Guelph, 1987

Background
Dr. Collins research focuses on the neural control of human movement. At the University of Guelph (supervisor Dr. John Brooke) his research was designed to investigate the reflex control of movement, with a focus on the modulation of reflexes during walking and cycling. During his PhD at the University of Alberta (supervisor Dr. Arthur Prochazka) he studied the sensory control of upper limb movements. This work focussed on the roles for sensory feedback in kinesthesia and the control of grasp. During his postdoctoral fellowship (co-supervisors Drs. Simon Gandevia and David Burke) he continued to study kinesthesia and started to investigate how to use electrical stimulation to; 1) investigate motoneuron properties and, 2) generate contractions for rehabilitation after an injury or disease of the central nervous system.      

Current affiliations:

  • Research Affiliate, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Associate Director, Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta
  • Director, Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Neuroscience Group, University of Alberta
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta
  • Associate Professor, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta 

Research

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.  


Teaching

Lecture-based courses:
PEDS 101: Introduction to human physiology (neuromuscular lectures only)
PEDS 103: Integrative human physiology (neuromuscular lectures only)
PEDS 302: Human motor control


Research experience courses: 
Undergraduate
PEDS 499: Directed studies
PEDS 490/491: Full-time/part time practicum
NEURO 450: Readings on selected topics in neuroscience 
NEURO 451/452/498/499: Honours research project in neuroscience

Graduate
NEURO 500/501: Research in Neuroscience