Department of Brain Repair & Rehabilitation
Head of Department: Professor David Werring
The Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation aims to understand mechanisms underlying neurological diseases and develop new treatments for patients with neurological conditions. The Department brings together several different areas of basic and clinical neuroscience, encouraging collaboration both within its various teams as well as with other departments across the Institute of Neurology, the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, the Faculty of Brain Sciences and UCL at large.
Translational Science with Impact
Two examples of research projects with a
direct impact on patients lives (from UCL Impact website):
- International Carotid Stenting Study influences national and international guidelines on the prevention of stroke resulting from carotid artery narrowing
- Improving reading and visual search in stroke patients
In the pursuit of this mission, the department focuses on the following areas:
- Stroke and traumatic brain injury. This includes: 1). Studies which are carried out in patients admitted acutely after brain injury or stroke and look at longitudinal changes in physiological homeostasis, at the levels of biochemical markers of injury, and at the neural reorganisation assessed by functional MRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). 2). Studies investigating the visual neglect and inattention following stroke and studies assessing the role of medial prefrontal cortex in cognition and action. The aim of this research programme is to identify early changes in the pathophysiological cascade of brain injury and potential windows for treatment before irreversible secondary ischaemic brain damage occurs.
- Spinal Injury. The Spinal Repair Unit is working on a method for repair of neuronal injuries by transplantation of cells cultured from the upper part of the adult nasal lining. Laboratory experiments show that this approach can cure a number of the deficits caused by spinal injury. The team is investigating how these findings can be applied to patients with spinal cord injury, with the intention that the patient can be the source of his/her own donor tissue.
- Neuroradiological Academic Unit (NAU). Development of a programme of advanced imaging techniques to assess both physiological and morphological parameters linked to neurological diseases, in particular in the areas of 1) Neurovascular diseases; 2) Brain tumours; 3) Neurodegenerative diseases; 4) Neuromuscular diseases. Imaging is available on 5 scanners within the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, from 1.5T and 3.0T (clinical) to 9.4T (preclinical).
- Headache. Studies of the mechanisms and management of headache syndromes. This programme is focused on migraine and trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, including cluster headache.
- Uro-Neurology. Focus is on patients with intractable bladder overactivity or urinary retention. Ongoing research in the Department has meant that we are able to offer many of these patients the choice of entering studies of new treatments.
- Neurorehabilitation. This includes studies of the mechanisms, measurement and management of neurological disability including multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord and neuromuscular disorders, combining clinical radiological and neuro-physiological methods. Particular areas of interest include care pathways, goal setting and vocational rehabilitation.