Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder with involuntary muscle contractions, forcing specific parts of the body into abnormal movements or positions, sometimes causing pain.
See also: Writer's cramp
From the webpage of: Nancy Byl, Ph.D., UCSF Professor, Physical Therapy
Research Statement: Neural consequences of repetitive strain injuries.
Research Summary: Working in collaboration with Michael Merzenich, PhD, we have been studying the effect of repetition on the organization of the representation of the hand on the somatosensory cortex. Using a animal model, we have created a repetitive behavioral task of hand opening and closing that ultimately leads to a loss of motor control (defined as dystonia) and a degradation of the representation of the hand on the somatosensory cortex. We are now looking at models for rehabilitating this condition and the need to develop computer guided sensory stimulators for clinical retraining. At the same time, we are looking at the presence of sensory problems in patients with severe repetitive strain injury and the effectiveness of a sensory discrimination retraining program.
Selected Publications: Byl, NN, Merzenich, MM, Jenkin, WM, A primate genesis model of focal dystonia and repetitive strain injury: i. Learning-induced de-differentiation of the representation of the hand in the primary somatosensory cortex in adult monkeys. Ann Neurrology 1996; 47: 509-520
Byl NN, Merzenich, MM, Cheung, S., Bedenbaugh, P., Nagarajan, SSS, Jenkins, WM., A primate model for studying focal dystonia and repetitive strain injury: effects on the primary somatosensory cortex. Physical Therapy 1997; 77:269-284
Byl, NN, Melnick, M., The neural consequences of repetition: Clinical implications of a leaning hypothesis. J. of hand Therapy, 1997; April-June: 160-174
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