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Jay L. Alberts and Susan M. Linder

The acute and long-term effects of concussive and subconcussive head impacts on brain health have gained tremendous attention over the past five years. The treatment and management of concussion involves multiple providers from multiple disciplines and backgrounds. Varied backgrounds and approaches to assessing cognitive and motor function before and post-concussion are limiting factors in the efficient and effective management of concussion as discipline-specific rating scales and assessments serve as a barrier to effective patient hand-offs between providers. Combining principles of motor behavior with biomechanical approaches to data analysis has the potential to improve the continuity of care across the multiple providers managing athletes with concussion. Biomechanical measures have been developed and validated using mobile devices to provide objective and quantitative assessments of information processing, working memory, set switching, and postural stability. These biomechanical outcomes are integral to a clinical management algorithm, the Concussion Care Path, currently used across the Cleveland Clinic Health System. The objective outcomes provide a common data set that all providers in the spectrum of care can access which facilitates communication and the practice of medicine and in understanding the acute and long-term effects of concussion and subconcussive exposure on neurological function.

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Rachael D. Seidler, Jay L. Alberts and George E. Stelmach

The purpose of this study was to determine whether elderly adults exhibit deficits in the performance of multi-joint movements. Two groups of subjects (mean ages, 68.9 and 30.1 years, respectively) participated in this experiment. Subjects performed planar arm pointing movements to various targets. One target could be achieved via elbow extension only, while the remaining 3 required both elbow extension and horizontal shoulder flexion, thus requiring coordination at the 2 joints. In contrast to the young adults, the elderly adults produced movements that became less smooth and less accurate with increasing shoulder joint contribution. The results imply a selective coordination deficit for the elderly adults. In addition, the elderly adults coactivated opposing muscles more than the young adults for the single-joint movement. However, the elderly adults reduced coactivation at both joints for the 2-joint actions, while the young adults did not. These data suggest a relationship between high coactivation levels and good performance for elderly adults. It may be more difficult for the elderly to implement high coactivation levels for multi-joint movements because of the increased energy costs and complexity of planning required in comparison to the single joint actions. Thus, to achieve motor performance, elderly persons appear to use coactivation in a manner that is fundamentally different than young adults.

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Angela L. Ridgel, Chul-Ho Kim, Emily J. Fickes, Matthew D. Muller and Jay L. Alberts

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) often experience cognitive declines. Although pharmacologic therapies are helpful in treating motor deficits in PD, they do not appear to be effective for cognitive complications. Acute bouts of moderate aerobic exercise have been shown to improve cognitive function in healthy adults. However, individuals with PD often have difficulty with exercise. This study examined the effects of passive leg cycling on executive function in PD. Executive function was assessed with Trail-Making Test (TMT) A and B before and after passive leg cycling. Significant improvements on the TMT-B test occurred after passive leg cycling. Furthermore, the difference between times to complete the TMT-B and TMT-A significantly decreased from precycling to postcycling. Improved executive function after passive cycling may be a result of increases in cerebral blood flow. These findings suggest that passive exercise could be a concurrent therapy for cognitive decline in PD.

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Jay L. Alberts, Christopher M. Elder, Michael S. Okun and Jerrold L. Vitek

The aim of this study was to determine the effects of unilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) on the control and coordination of grasping forces produced by Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Ten advanced PD patients with unilateral DBS in the globus pallidus (GPi) or the subthalamic nucleus (STN) (5 patients in each group) performed a functional bimanual dexterous manipulation task. Experiments were performed in the “Off” medication state with DBS “On” and “Off.” DBS resulted in (a) significant clinical improvements, (b) greater maximum grip force for both limbs, (c) reduced movement time, and (d) bilateral coupling of grasping forces. There were no significant differences between the GPi and STN groups for any clinical or kinematic measures. DBS of the GPi and STN leads to an improvement in the motor functioning of advanced PD patients. Improvement in force-timing specification during DBS might allow PD patients to employ a feedforward method of force control.

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Anson B. Rosenfeldt, Amanda L. Penko, Andrew S. Bazyk, Matthew C. Streicher, Tanujit Dey and Jay L. Alberts

The aim of this project was to (a) evaluate the potential of the 2-min walk test to detect declines in gait velocity under dual-task conditions and (b) compare gait velocity overground and on a self-paced treadmill in Parkinson’s disease (PD). In total, 23 individuals with PD completed the 2-min walk test under single- and dual-task (serial 7s) conditions overground and on a self-paced treadmill. There was a significant decrease in gait velocity from single- to dual-task conditions overground (1.32 ± 0.22 to 1.10 ± 0.25 m/s; p < .001) and on the self-paced treadmill (1.24 ± 0.21 to 1.05 ± 0.25 m/s; p < .001). Overground and treadmill velocities were not statistically different from each other; however, differences approached or exceeded the minimal clinical important difference. The 2-min walk test coupled with a cognitive task provides an effective model of identifying dual-task declines in individuals with PD. Further studies comparing overground and self-paced treadmill velocity is warranted in PD.