2023-2024 Pilot Project Grant Awardees

Deborah Barany, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, Kinesiology

The effect of mild traumatic brain injury on corticospinal excitability during complex action preparation

After mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), incomplete neurobiological recovery may underlie long-term functional deficits, even for people who are considered clinically recovered. Previous research has demonstrated residual motor deficits after mTBI, especially for tasks that require more complex and cognitively demanding action preparation. Yet, the relationship between differences in neural processing and deficits in complex action preparation is unknown. The objective of this study is to investigate the neurophysiology of complex action preparation and its alterations after mTBI. We will use transcranial magnetic stimulation to probe timing-specific changes in corticospinal excitability during an upper-limb reaction time task in healthy young participants and participants with a recent mTBI. We will test how modulation of corticospinal excitability may underlie reaction time differences for planning more complex movements, and whether mTBI affects corticospinal excitability during movement preparation. This work will help clarify the functional relevance of corticospinal excitability modulation for complex action preparation and inform novel rehabilitation approaches for improving functional motor outcomes after neurological injury.  Please visit Brain and Action Lab page for more information.

Parneet Grewal, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Neurology

Accelerated rTMS for Post-stroke Apathy: Targeting Amotivation Toward Improving Whole Health and Rehabilitation Engagement

Nearly 40% of chronic stroke patients experience difficulty with motivation, which impedes engagement in rehabilitation as well as daily life. Evidence suggests that the neurocircuitry responsible for loss of motivation after stroke is accessible to non-invasive repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. We propose to establish the safety, acceptability/tolerability and feasibility of a novel, personalized, high-dose “accelerated” form of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) targeted to the neurocircuit substrates of apathy and amotivation.  Please visit Dr. Grewals's faculty profile page for more information.

Alan Needle, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Appalachian State University, Public Health and Exercise Science

Training ReActivation from the Cortex to the Knee (TRACK)

Maladaptive neuroplasticity is common following ligamentous injury, such as tears of the knee's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), potentially contributing to long-term decrements in function and subsequent injury risk. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has the potential to improve neural excitability and subsequently function in individuals with ACL injury; however, it's use has largely been aimed at neurologically impaired populations. This study will aim to integrate the fields of neuromodulation and musculoskeletal injury through a clinical trial utilizing tDCS in individuals who have undergone ACL reconstruction.It successwould ultimately provide an intervention capable of restoring typical function in patients with ligamentous injury, thereby addressing a barrier to rehabilitation that contributes to disability and decreases in health-related quality of life.  Please visit Dr. Needle's faculty profile page for more information.

Sharyl Samargia-Grivette, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Communications Sciences and Disorder    

Combining cerebellar tDCS with CILT in non-fluent aphasia: a novel approach to target discourse.

People who have aphasia after a stroke often have long term problems communicating that have negative impacts on their relationships, work and engagement in the community. The goal of this research is to find new ways of combining speech-language therapy with new technologies to improve communication skills in people who have aphasia.  Please visit the Neural Function and Recovery Lab page for more information.

Marlon Wong, PT, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Clinical, University of Miami, Physical Therapy

Addressing Disparities in Neuromodulation for Rehabilitation: A Mixed Methods Approach to Optimize Access for Underrepresented Racial Minorities

Improving recruitment of underrepresented racial/ethnic minority participants in neurostimulation research is critical for us to better understand outcomes with these modalities. Additionally, it is important to recruit and retain participants from populations for whom findings will have the greatest impact. This project will provide the field with culturally sensitive videos to enhance the consent process, and our findings will inform strategies to recruit underrepresented racial/ethnic minority individuals who are at highest risk for persistent pain conditions yet are traditionally underrepresented in neurostimulation research.  Please visit Dr. Wong's faculty profile page for more information.