|Budget Amount *help
¥2,300,000 (Direct Cost: ¥2,300,000)
Fiscal Year 2018: ¥1,000,000 (Direct Cost: ¥1,000,000)
Fiscal Year 2017: ¥1,200,000 (Direct Cost: ¥1,200,000)
|Outline of Annual Research Achievements
The research program investigated: 1) neuroplasticity mechanisms that allow Paralympic athletes to achieve high functional performance, and 2) how to modulate the central nervous system to encourage neuroplasticity. Specifically, our results showed revealed trunk-limb neural interaction in the corticospinal pathway, which depend on the proximity of the trunk and limb representation in the motor cortex. This is relevant because trunk muscles have an essential role in postural control during wheelchair sports. Moreover, we showed that Paralympic wheelchair athletes have considerably enhanced corticospinal connection between trunk and hand muscles compared to people who do not use wheelchairs. This may be attributed to expansion of representation in the motor cortical areas due to wheelchair tennis training. This research was featured on a TV show on NHK - 超人たちのパラリンピック. Moreover, we also examined how functional electrical stimulation (FES) can enhance neuroplasticity in the central nervous system. Specifically, our results showed that FES of the trunk can increase spinal reflex excitability of the trunk muscles after the intervention. Such a method could be used as a tool to train wheelchair athletes to improve their athletic performance. We also demonstrated that muscle stimulation with FES can be used to decrease symptoms of spasticity, which is common after neurological injuries, as well as that FES training can effectively increase cortical activations after the training period, leading to long-term re-organization, i.e., neuroplasticity.
|Current Status of Research Progress
Current Status of Research Progress
1: Research has progressed more than it was originally planned.
1) In this research program, we elucidated the neural mechanisms which help Paralympic wheelchair athletes achieve high functional performance. The findings are summarized below:
 A. Sasaki, M. Milosevic, H. Sekiguchi, and K. Nakazawa, “Evidence for existence of trunk-limb neural interaction in the corticospinal pathway”, Neuroscience Letter, vol. 668, pp. 31-6, 2018.  A. Sasaki, M. Milosevic, N. Cao, and K. Nakazawa, “Strong neural connections between arm and trunk muscles in corticospinal pathway reflect neuroplasticity of an elite wheelchair tennis athlete “, To be submitted to Frontiers in Neuroscience.
2) Moreover, we showed that use of functional electrical stimulation can increase spinal reflex excitability of the trunk muscles, as well as inhibit spinal reflexes in lower-limbs, and lead to long-term cortical re-organization, i.e., neuroplasticity. The findings are summarized below:
 M. Milosevic, Y. Masugi, H. Obata, M. R. Popovic, and K. Nakazawa, "Short-term inhibition of spinal reflexes in multiple lower-limb muscles after neuromuscular electrical stimulation of ankle plantar flexors," Experimental Brain Research, 2019.  A. Sasaki, M. Milosevic, N. Cao, and K. Nakazawa, “Neuromuscular electrical stimulation of the trunk change spinal, but not corticospinal excitability“, To be submitted to Neuromodulation.  M. Milosevic, T. Nakanishi, A. Sasaki, A. Yamaguchi, M.R. Popovic, and K. Nakazawa, “Re-mapping of neural activity after functional electrical stimulation therapy in traumatic brain injury: A case study,” To be submitted to NeuroImage.