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Intact Limbs and Brain Function to be Studied in Amputees

Oct. 3, 2012

Scientists from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to study the functionality of intact limbs in amputees.

The primary investigator of the study, titled “Neural Mechanisms Underlying Functional Laterality of the Intact Arm of Upper-limb Amputees: an fMRI Study,” is Jinsung Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The co-primary investigator, Jeff Binder, M.D., is a professor of neurology, biophysics, cellular biology, neurobiology and anatomy at MCW. He practices at Froedtert Hospital.

Patients with an upper-limb amputation rely heavily on the use of their intact arm for activities previously performed by the amputated limb. Understanding the intact arm’s functionality is critical for successful performance of those duties, as well as preventing injury of the arm. In this study, researchers will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain activity during intact-limb movement to gain a better understanding of that functionality.

This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major future research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from the National Institutes of Health, the John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award, and both MCW’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin program, and MCW’s Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center.

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