Multiple projects are currently underway in the lab, as listed below. If you are interested in collaborating, assisting with the study, or participating in the study, please reach out to us!
Overview: The HITMS project tracks the health of about 200 people with MS in NL annually for 10 years. The project is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Using sophisticated measures of brain activity, performance on cognitive and physical tests, as well as detection of immune cells in the blood, we aim to understand whether fitness and exercise impact disease progression.
Collaborators and funding: This project is a collaboration between Dr. Ploughman and Dr. Craig moore (neuroimmunologist), Dr. Zhiwei Gao (biostatistician), Dr. Mark Stefanelli (neurologist), and Dr. Frasier Clift (neurologist). This project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
Participants: We are recruiting people with MS in NL who are willing to visit our lab once each year for testing. The testing takes about 4 hours and participants are provided with a ‘report card’ each year, comparing their performance on various measures to previous visits.
We are working together with eight major stroke rehabilitation research sites in Canada to test innovative treatments to drive stroke recovery. Our first trial (the FLOW study) involves studying whether combining physiotherapy with a drug known to promote neuroplasticity (fluoxetine) will result in greater recovery compared to placebo. This study is sponsored by BrainCanada and the Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery. We are currently recruiting people who had a stroke in the previous 12 months and have weakness in their leg.
Dosage and Timing of Aerobic Exercise to ‘prime’ the brain for stroke recovery (partnership with Dr. Lara Boyd in UBC) 2020-2022 (PRIML)
We are working in partnership with Dr. Lara Boyd at University of British Columbia to find out when is the best time to implement a complex intervention aimed at promoting recovery of the arm after stroke. The intervention involves a bout of intensive aerobic exercise followed by training in a virtual reality environment (Kinarm https://kinarm.com/). We are measuring brain recovery using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (https://www.magstim.com/us-en/magstim-bistim2/) and functional near infrared spectroscopy (https://nirx.net/nirscout). This study is expected to begin recruiting people in Spring 2021 who have stroke-related arm and hand problems.
Characterizing changes in fitness and brain health in healthy adults (AGE-ility)
In many of our studies, we construct a physical and neural profile of our participants, usually in order to determine whether they have improved or worsened in their disease presentation from their last visit or following some intervention. However, we don't have a group of 'healthy' (that is to say, not diagnosed with a neurological disorder) participants to gather that same data from. The aim of the AGE-ility project is to bridge this gap. We are collecting data using the same methodology as our HITMS study, which involves assessments of gait, upper extremity function, corticospinal excitability, physical fitness, and cognitive functioning.
Determining the neural underpinnings of mental fatigue in MS
We are currently in the design and pilot-testing phase of a study investigating fatigue in people with MS. More details to follow.
If you are interested in being a potential participant for this study, please contact us.