Arash Mahnan, Kinesiology Ph.D. student in Movement Science, has been appointed to the University’s Senate Information Technologies Committee (SITC). The committee represents the institution’s faculty, academic professional, civil service and student interests in the development, implementation, and distribution of information technologies at the U. The committee reports to the Senate and makes recommendations concerning policies and administration around information technologies.
The committee meets monthly and consists of eight faculty, four P&A, three students, and one civil service representative. The students include Mahnan, a representative from the Department of Engineering and one from the College of Continuing Education. The student representatives were chosen based on their background, experience and qualifications in the field of information technology. Mahnan will serve a two-year term on the committee.
His Hungarian hosts comprised researchers with backgrounds in mathematics, physics, and cognitive neuroscience with an interest in modeling human movement and translating this knowledge to help patients with spinal cord injuries to regain function. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia) is the most important and prestigious academic society of Hungary. Its main responsibilities are the cultivation of science, dissemination of scientific findings, supporting research and development and representing Hungarian science domestically and around the world.
Dr. Wade and Dr. Konczak first gave two keynote addresses at the China Preschool Children Health Conference held in Suzhou, a fast-growing modern city outside Shanghai. They then visited Shanxi University in Taiyuan, the capital city in Shanxi province in northwestern China with 4.2 million people. Next they traveled by high-speed rail to Tianjin, where they presented at Tianjin Sport University, a long-time partner of the School of Kinesiology. Their final lecture was at Hebei Universityin Shijiazhuan, where the first modern higher education institution in China was founded in 1895.
Kinesiology professors Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., and Michael Wade, Ph.D., addressed over 700 attendees of the Suzhou International Conference on Child Health Development. The conference centered around themes of how early childhood education best promotes cognitive, social, sensory and motor development. Suzhou is a city of about 10.5 million people in southeastern China. Kinesiology professor Li Li Ji, Ph.D., also attended the conference.
A faculty member and doctoral student in the School of Kinesiology have been selected to receive awards from the College of Education and Human Development’s Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle (WPLC).
Dahia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School, has received the Rising Star Faculty Award of $1,500 to use for professional development. She joins an elite group of CEHD female faculty members in the college who have received this prestigious award.
Sanaz Khosravani, a Kinesiology doctoral student in the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, will receive a $1,400 Graduate Student Ph.D. award based on the review committee’s assessment of her “academic achievements, community involvement, leadership, and passion for her academic and professional career.”
The awards will be conferred at the WPLC’s annual celebration on Tuesday, June 13, at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul.
Konczak provided an overview of his lab’s research on somatosensory deficits in Parkinson’s disease and dystonia and outlined how these sensory impairments may cause the motor deficits seen in the neurological diseases. He also presented recent work led by Dr. Naveen Elangovan, postdoctoral researcher in the lab, that showed that Parkinsonian symptoms can be improved through a specialized sensory training.
School of Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., gave a keynote address last Thursday, March 30, at the 12th Annual Spring Conference of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Kentucky. The conference had approximately 900 attendees, mostly from the medical and engineering sciences, as well as practitioners from across the state. Konczak spoke on robotic rehabilitation and their impact for future neurorehabilitation therapies and diagnostics.
Members of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab (HSCL) in the School of Kinesiology attended the Hmong International Academy for a community outreach event last Thursday evening, March 30. The Academy, a culturally specific school for children Pre-K through Grade 8, asked several departments at the U of M to attend Family Fun Night to share information about their work and research for families and their children who attend the school.
Kinesiology doctoral students Jessica Holst-Wolf, Arash Mahnan and I-Ling Yeh set up three mini-stations demonstrating EMG (electromyography) technology, postural control, and how to measure haptic sensitivity, or sense of touch, and provided general information about kinesiology and movement science. HSCL lab director is Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.
Neurodevelopmental disorders and brain injuries in children have been associated with proprioceptive dysfunctions that will negatively affect their movements. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how proprioception evolves in typically developing children is still sparse due to the lack of reliable clinical examination protocols.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.,professor in the School of Kinesiology, has received an appointment as 2017 Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). TUM is one of Germany’s premier science institutions, comparable in scope to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. The TUM visiting professorship is awarded to scientists with an outstanding international reputation to promote intensive collaborations with TUM researchers.
As part of the professorship, Konczak will join the prestigious TUM Institute of Advanced Studies as an Honorary Fellow and is expected to give lectures to students, faculty and the university community. In addition, he will join the research team of Dr. Hermsdörfer in TUM’s Department of Movement and Health Sciences. The award provides the funds for Dr. Konczak’s stay in Munich and he will join the TUM faculty during the summer months in 2017.
Global sporting goods manufacturer Wilson Sporting Goods Company introduced a new line of high-technology performance tennis rackets that were field-tested in the School of Kinesiology’s Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL) directed by Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.The participants were experts recruited from the U of M varsity tennis men’s and women’s teams, and testing took place at the U of M Tennis Center.
In tennis, the ball hitting the racket during tennis strokes induces a vibration of the racket frame, which transfers to the arm of the players. High vibration transfer may cause discomfort, induce earlier onset of fatigue and, with repeated exposure, increases injury risk. A racket design that can effectively reduce vibration transfer from the racket to the player’s arm should mitigate these negative vibration effects and aid to stabilize or improve a player’s performance.
Thus Wilson used Countervail technology, a one-of-a-kind layered carbon fiber that was originally designed for the aerospace industry to dissipate vibrational energy in airplanes. Strategic amounts of this material were incorporated into their new Blade performance tennis racket. HSCL measured the vibration in the rackets and determined how much these vibrations transferred to the arm, then compared the vibration behavior of this new design to another commercially available racket. In addition, the electrical signals from several arm muscles were recorded during the play to obtain electrophysiological markers of muscle fatigue.
A main finding of the study is that the new Countervail technology effectively reduces the vibration at the racket, which potentially can help players play longer while maintaining the precision of their strokes.
On November 30, Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.,professor in the School of Kinesiology, delivered a lecture at the Graduate Program in Neuroscience Colloquium Series in the U of M’s Department of Neuroscience. His talk, titled “Somatosensory Plasticity in Human Motor Learning,” reviewed recent research on the neural changes that occur during sensorimotor learning.
The weekly colloquium is sponsored by the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and features external and internal speakers who are experts across the spectrum of neuroscience.
In collaboration with coworkers from the Italian Institute of Technology and Columbia University, Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab, published a paper entitled “Biofeedback Signals for Robotic Rehabilitation: Assessment of Wrist Muscle Activation Patterns in Healthy Humans” in Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering. Marianna Semprini is the first author and Konczak is the senior author.
An excerpt from the abstract: “Electrophysiological recordings from human muscles can serve as control signals for robotic rehabilitation devices. Given that many diseases affecting the human sensorimotor system are associated with abnormal patterns of muscle activation, such biofeedback can optimize human-robot interaction and ultimately enhance motor recovery. To understand how mechanical constraints and forces imposed by a robot affect muscle synergies, we mapped the muscle activity of 7 major arm muscles in healthy individuals performing goal-directed discrete wrist movements constrained by a wrist robot.”
This study examined the trainability of the proprioceptive sense and explored the relationship between proprioception and motor learning, using the wristbot developed by HSCL director Juergen Konczak, Ph.D. and collegues from Italy and Singapore.
Konczak’s grant aims to advance the commercialization of the Wristbot, a robotic system for the diagnosis and physical rehabilitation of sensory and motor dysfunction of the wrist and hand. It was developed in cooperation with international partners at the Italian Institute of Technology and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The grant will enable the lab to perform two clinical studies that seeks to document the efficacy of the Wristbot system as a diagnostic and rehabilitation tool for people with Parkinson’s disease or for stroke survivors.
The HSCL, directed by Juergen Konczak, Ph.D. performs the necessary movement assessments on all participants before the study began, and again at six weeks after completion of the yoga program. To understand if yoga is beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s disease, the participants are tested for joint range of motion and for postural stability when standing and walking. See this information sheet for more details.