Neuro-muscular modelling and analysis of gait abnormalities in early hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP)

Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) is a group of hereditary, slowly progressive neurological movement disorders characterized by spastic gait disorder. Degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord leads on the one hand to progressive spasticity (pathological increase in muscle tension, hyperreflexia) in certain groups of the leg muscles, while other groups are affected by muscle weakness.

For a more detailed understanding of the progressive nerve degeneration and the associated movement impairments as well as the development of assistance systems such as functional electrostimulation (FES), the early, pre-clinical phase of the disease is of particular interest, when the typical clinical symptoms have not yet become visible.

In cooperation with the the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research (HIH) we investigate the neuromuscular causes of movement disorders using complementary methods of biomechanics and motor control. In the further course of the project, the first occurrence and progression of the movement disorder in this patient population will be investigated in detail longitudinally and modelled on neuro-muscular basis. The project combines synchronous gait recordings of kinematics and muscle activity by electromyographic (EMG) signals in a movement laboratory. Based on this information we investigate causal relationships between the identified pre-clinical movement disorder and the underlying changes in muscle activity.

For future applications in everyday life and rehabilitation treatments, relevant parameters for mobile classification of gait disorders will be identified.

Participating Team Members

Niethammer, Christian

Ilg, Winfried

Häufle, Daniel

Schöls, Ludger

Rattay, Tim W.

Thesis Topics