NeuroMuscular Research Center
Established in 1984
The NeuroMuscular Research Center (NMRC) focuses on advancing and disseminating knowledge in the fields of Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, Rehabilitation Medicine, and related fields by the application of principles of natural sciences, life sciences, and mathematics. The mission of the Center focuses on increasing knowledge of motor control and improving the quality of health care for neuromuscularly impaired patients. It pursues these goals by performing basic and applied research, and by developing new techniques and technology in biomechanics, electromyography, posturography and back muscle assessment. The NMRC is organized into seven laboratories, each supervised by a faculty member: the Design Lab, the Electrophysiology Lab, the Injury Analysis and Prevention Lab, the Motion Analysis Lab, the Motor Control Lab, the Motor unit Lab, and the Muscle Fatigue Lab. The NMRC attracts scientists and researchers from universities throughout the world and has a staff of over 40 professionals and students.
The Center organizes a yearly seminar series in which approximately 15 visiting professionals present informative sessions on timely scientific issues. In addition, colloquia and workshops relevant to the mission of the Center are conducted by Center faculty at various times throughout the year.
The NMRC receives its major financial support from the Department of Veterans Affairs along with minor support from other government and private agencies. Collaborations include Liberty Mutual Medical Service Center; Boston VA Medical Center; Bedford VA Medical Center; Braintree Hospital; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital; Southern New England Rehabilitation Center; Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged; Karolinska Institute, Sweden; New England Medical Center; Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center; Politecnico di Torino, Italy; and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
- The Muscle Fatigue Lab develops surface electromyographic techniques and prototypes of devices to assess the severity of musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back pain or disuse atrophy from prolonged spaceflight.
- The Electrophysiology Lab uses isolated muscle preparations to describe the underlying physiological and morphological basis for surface EMG signal behavior.
- The Injury Analysis and Prevention Lab studies motor control mechanisms, especially related to balance, that may cause slip and fall injuries. Biomechanical and neurophysiological tools are used to develop a better understanding of mechanisms causing injury, thus increasing the possibility of developing successful preventive measures. The lab is equipped with “BALDER” a unique custom built balance platform used to impose postural perturbations, a virtual reality environment and different motion analysis systems as well as various strength testing devices and EMG equipment.
- The Motor Unit Lab investigates how the brain and spinal cord control muscle cells to produce muscle force. The Precision Decomposition Technique, which has received international recognition, is used in studying the activation patterns of concurrently active muscle fibers. Knowledge gained through research in this lab is expected to be transferred into the clinical environment to improve the ability of the neurologist to categorize and quantify neurological dysfunction.
- The Design Lab develops specialized electromyographic and biomechanical instrumentation. Several devices, including specialized electrodes for detecting and analyzing the surface electromyographic signal, have been developed here and are presently being used in clinics and research laboratories throughout the world.
- The Motor Control Lab performs research to better understand and characterize the three major determinants of movement: higher motor centers, reflex mechanism, and muscle properties by employing the techniques of biomechanics and electromyography. Contributions to the understanding of single and double joint movements have received international attention.