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Department of Brain Repair & Rehabilitation
Head of Department: Professor Xavier Golay
The Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation aims to understand mechanisms underlying neurological diseases and develop new treatments for patients with neurological conditions.The mission of the Department is the translation of biomedical knowledge to clinical practice, to lessen the impact of neurological dysfunction on patients.Brain Repair and Rehabilitation 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, National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and UCL.
Our interests include stroke, brain and spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and headache. Members of the Department have expertise in basic neuroscience, therapeutics, rehabilitation, cognitive neuroscience, neuroradiology, physics, psychometrics, uroneurology, autonomics, neurointensive care and neurosurgery.
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.
- Cognitive Neurology. Disorders of perception, attention and action control are common in many neurological disorders. This group is involved in the investigation and development of treatments for such deficits. By combining behavioural methods with neuroimaging and pharmacological techniques, novel therapeutic strategies are being developed for cognitive disorders, particularly following stroke.
- 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.
- Anatomic, functional and vascular imaging. Development of a programme to advance morphological imaging using high resolution imaging (3T MR) and MR microscopy (7T).
- 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 rehabiliation.
- Outcome measurement. The Neurological Outcomes Measure Unit (NOMU) focuses on the development, evaluation, and application of rating scales to measure health outcomes, predominantly in neuroscience. It undertakes broad-based research in applied projects and in psychometric methodology which is both qualitative (including in-depth qualitative interviews) and quantitative (including large scale multi-centre surveys and psychometric evaluations).