Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

HARTFORD – The Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital, a St. Francis Care provider, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

This is the largest research grant ever received by the Mandell center, which will use it to research the capacity and performance of upper extremities, including arms, hands and shoulders, in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Dr. Albert Lo, Ph.D., director of neuroscience research at the Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research, and Elizabeth Triche, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at Brown University, are co-principal investigators for the grant.

“Much attention is given to the lower extremities in multiple sclerosis research, but upper body movement is essential to maintain independence and social function, and we have much less information available,” stated Dr. Lo. “An integrated clinical examination of how strength, coordination and pain contribute to upper extremity function is needed in order to identify what is important to future upper extremity rehabilitative interventions. Effective rehabilitative approaches could mean improving the quality of life in individuals with MS.” 

A random, community-based population of 300 people will participate in the two-year study to determine impairments in body functions that most contribute to deficits in upper extremity capacity and performance. The study will examine physiological changes in upper extremity body functions during physical activities, and study the impact and variability of pain and fatigue on a person’s capacity to perform daily tasks like writing, driving, eating, showering, grocery shopping, working or dressing. Once the study is completed, the researchers hope to help clinicians better customize individual care for MS patients.  

“If one patient uses a computer for work, has mild weakness and some pain, we may be able to provide information to the clinicians that will help them to individualize patient care in order to possibly help a  patient stay in the work force and maintain their independence longer,” stated Dr. Lo. “We also hope to use our findings from this study to design future studies to evaluate which therapies work best for specific combinations of impairments.”