Nobody has ever conducted brain scans during locomotion of people with stroke, according to Dr. Sheila Schindler-Ivens, assistant professor of physical therapy, but that’s what she’s setting out do. Schindler-Ivens, who studies the rehabilitation of stroke survivors and how the brain adapts to regain walking ability, is a recipient of a 2010 Way Klingler Young Scholar Award.
“We’re trying to see if there’s an actual remapping of the way the brain controls movement or if it’s just the stronger leg taking over,” she explained. Her work is supported by a five-year, nearly $600,000 Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. The grant pairs Schindler-Ivens with mentors Dr. Kris Ropella, chair and professor of biomedical engineering, and Dr. Brian Schmit, associate professor of biomedical engineering, who will provide support as Schindler-Ivens expands her research using functional imaging techniques. Schindler-Ivens has already used functional MRI to examine brain activity while subjects pedaled on a bike. “Now we’re moving into people with stroke, which is much more challenging,” said Schindler-Ivens.
The Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards support promising young scholars in critical stages of their careers and allow recipients to take a one-semester sabbatical. Schindler-Ivens will take her sabbatical this fall.