Forschung in der Physiotherapie

Zum besonderen Profil des Studiengangs Physiotherapie, den die FH Aachen gemeinsam mit der Medizinischen Fakultät und der Schule für Physiotherapie am Uniklinikum Aachen anbietet, gehören

  • die Anwendung innovativer Technologien in der Physiothreapie, Medizin und Rehabilitationstechnik,
  • die Verbindung von Anwendung, Forschung und Wissenschaft,
  • die funktionale Anpassung des Muskelskelettsystems durch Alterung, Verletzung, Immobilisierung o.ä.
  • und die Entwicklung und Erforschung innovativer Behandlungsansätze und technischer Systeme zur Verbesserung der Teilhabe in Beruf und Alltag.

Auf dieser Seite stellen wir beispielhaft Forschungsprojekte vor, die von Lehrenden und Studierenden der Physiotherapie an der FH Aachen durchgeführt wurden.

Myotendinous and neuromuscular adaptation to long-term-spaceflight

Myotendinous and neuromuscular adaptation to long-term-spaceflight

After a long-term exposure to microgravity, muscle function is highly altered due to a loss of muscle mass, reduced contractile properties, and perturbation in motor control; as a consequence, a decrease in muscle force per unit of cross-sectional area is observed. In old age or through bodily inactivity, similar physiological adaptations are described as those following habitation in microgravity. Therefore, long-term habitation in space excellently suits as model to study physiological effects of aging, and to develop effective countermeasures.

Following an integrative experimental approach, SarcoLab-3, will provide a most comprehensive analysis of the causes of loss of specific muscle force in space from the molecular to whole body level. Astronauts and Cosmonauts will be recruited to participate in SarcoLab-3. Data collection will include two pre-flight, three inflight, and up to five post flight sessions utilizing the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES).

Function of the lower extremity muscles is studied during static and dynamic contractions performed on the MARES dynamometer. Muscle architecture, muscle volume and tendon mechanical properties are assessed using ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Furthermore, peripheral electrical nerv- and muscle stimulation is used to determine activation capacity and the excitability of alpha-motoneurons. An optional biopsy sample of the soleus muscle, before and after the flight, will be obtained to study single muscle fiber properties.

Principle investigator

  • Rittweger, Jörn, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Cologne, Germany
  • Kozlovskaya, Inessa B., Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP), Moscow, Russia
  • Laughlin, Mitzi S., University of Houston, Houston, Texas, United States

Co-investigators

  • K. Albracht, University of Applied Science Aachen, German Sport University Cologne
  • M. Narici, University of Padova, Italy
  • M. Flück, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • C. Gelfi,  University of Milan, Italy
  • M. Capri,  University of Bologna, Italy
  • R. Bottinelli, University of Pavia, Italy
  • C. Franceschi, CNR-Institute of Bioimaging and Molecular Physiology, Milan, Italy
  • C. Layne, University of Houston, USA
  • Y. Koryak, Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP), Russia
  • P. Ceretelli, CNR-Institute of Bioimaging and Molecular Physiology, Milan, Italy

Funding

The European part of the project is supported by ESA. Kirsten Albracht received a research grant from the German Space Agency (50WB1728).

Cervical spine and muscle adaptation after spaceflight and relationship to herniation (CerISS)

Cervical spine and muscle adaptation after spaceflight and relationship to herniation (CerISS)

Aim

The aim of this study is to investigate possible factors that may be involved in cervical intervertebral disc herniations after spaceflight.

Abstract

Astronauts are at increased risk of neck injury and pain upon returning to Earth. The aim of this study is to examine the potential reasons responsible for this risk. Astronauts who are scheduled to complete greater than four weeks of spaceflight will be examined twice during the pre-flight phase and four times during the post-flight phase. The duration of this study will range from 180 days pre-flight to 190 days post-flight. The performed examinations are magnetic resonance imaging of the neck, endurance and function of the neck muscles, neck motion, amount of oxygen in the muscles of the neck, questionnaires and a meausurement of the bones in the neck.

Principle investigator

  • D. Belavy, Deakin University
  • K. Albracht, University of Applied Science Aachen, German Sport University Cologne
  • G. Ambrecht, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin


Co-investigators

  • H. Brisby, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg
  • B. Cagnie, Ghent University
  • D. Falla, Universitty of Birmingham
  • R. Scheuring, Johnson Space Center
  • R. Sovelius, Centre for Military Medicine,Tampere
  • H.-J. Wilke, University of Ulm

Myotones

Myotones

Aim

MyotonPRO device offers the unique opportunity to obtain objective measurements of key anatomic elements of the human myofascial system (e.g. muscle tone/tension and other biomechanical and viscoelastic properties) non-invasively monitoring indicators of neuromuscular performance of crew members and thus complementing current exercise countermeasure outcome monitoring.

Abstract

The skeletal muscle biomechanical properties (tone/tension, stiffness, elasticity) appear to be strongly related to human health status in everyday life on Earth and in Space. For example, human skeletal muscle overload by exhaustive work, strenuous exercise (overtraining) or by stress factors may result in elevated muscle tension and stiffness (including pain sensation such as in the neck or back muscles) which likely affects the general “well-being” of your whole body and also your fitness status on Earth. Alternatively, muscle activity status that differs from normal, such as during prolonged low-force muscle activation (“underload”), extended immobilization (disuse), disease, aging, and in spaceflight, reduce muscle mass and strength, and may have an impact how you perform activities and may make you feel “less fit” during your inflight mission duties but also upon return to Earth. Inflight countermeasures are important for preventing the effects of this “underload” from microgravity but it has not been possible to date, to measure the muscle status inflight, for example, in terms of onboard exercise outcome assessment. In clinical situations on Earth, acute or chronic “muscle quality” changes (e.g., tension vs. tightness/contracture) are monitored by “manual palpation” by medical doctors or physiotherapists, as there were no suitable technologies available up to date.

The MyotonPRO Digital Palpation Device offers a non-invasive, painless, easy to use method for the measurement of state of tension, biomechanical and viscoelastic properties of superficial skeletal muscle (tone, stiffness, elasticity, relaxation time and creep) and other structures (tendon, ligaments) of the associated human myofascial system. MyotonPRO is a potentially valuable technology to monitor muscle health of crew members to complement pre-, in- and postflight skeletal muscle fitness status, as well as to evaluate physical exercise prescriptions and individual outcome (personalized countermeasure) during long-duration missions on ISS.

Principle investigator

  • D. Blottner, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Co-investigators

  • Kirsten Albracht, University of Applied Science Aachen, German Sport University Cologne
    Hanns-Christian Gunga, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Maria Stokes, University Southampton, UK
  • Aleko Peipsi, Myoton (industrial partner)

Funding

The Project is supported by ESA and the German Space Agency.

Biomechanics and energetics of human locomotion in hyper- and hypo-gravity

Biomechanics and energetics of human locomotion in hyper- and hypo-gravity

Aim

Evaluate neuromuscular control and fascicle behaviour in human locomotion under different gravitational conditions.

Abstract

Manned space missions to Mars and the Moon implicate exposure to hypo-gravity environments, long-term confinement, surface space walks and extravehicular activities for habitat assemblies. Therefore, locomotion (i.e. running, bouncing, walking, foot landing) in varying gravity conditions is a prerequisite for the success of future inter-planetary discovery missions. To preserve the astronauts’ capability to execute mission-critical tasks on differing planetary surfaces and in transit, a thorough understanding of the neuronal control of the musculoskeletal system during locomotion and the underlying energy expenditure in hypo-gravity is required. Thus, the proposed life science experiment aims to assess neural, mechanical modulations in response to gravitational changes within a setting of locomotor movement as it occurs in daily life. The scientific goal of this project is to establish gravity-induced neuro-mechanical characteristics (neuromuscular activity, muscle-tendon-unit interaction, joint kinematics and forces) in a test paradigm of bouncing movement. In particular, we want to detect the human anticipatory capacity to adapt compensatory muscle activation, muscle-tendon stiffness regulation and energy expenditure as a function of variable g-levels.  From a methodological point of view, this is realized by a holistic approach which includes the neuromuscular, tendo-muscular, metabolic, kinematic and kinetic processes during bounces. We expect that the human body might reduce neuromuscular control in response to a decreased gravitation involving an adaptation of the muscle-tendon unit and being in accordance with lower metabolic demands during selected events of human locomotion. A fundamental insight into variable adaptations of the human locomotor apparatus can be provided to be the basis for future investigations in different gravitational environments.

Principle investigator

  • R. Ritzmann, A. Gollhofer, University Freiburg
  • M. Narici, University of Padua
  • K. Albracht, FH Aachen & German Sport University

Funding

The Project is supported by ESA and the German Space Agency.

Mechanics and loading forces associated with Movement in simulated Low gravity - the MO-LO study

Mechanics and loading forces associated with Movement in simulated Low gravity - the MO-LO study

The fascicle behaviour and neuromusculur control during walking and running in simulated low gravity.

Principle investigator

  • D. Green, King’s College London/Space Medicine Office, EAC

Co-investigators

  • K. Albracht, University of Applied Science Aachen, German Sport University Cologne
  • C. Richter, University of Applied Science Aachen, German Sport University Cologne
  • B. Braunstein, German Sport University Cologne
  • J. Rittweger, Deutsches Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)
  • T. Weber, Space Medicine Office, EAC
  • K. Mileva, London South Bank University, UK

Funding

This study is supported by the European Space Agency (Spaceship EAC) and the German Space Agency (50WB1728).