Originally published in Bench to Bedside, the CHOP Research monthly publication
I composed this original article based on an interview with the investigator.
If you have ever hit your stride on a moving walkway, the type commonly found in airports, consider how it felt when you stepped back onto solid ground. You may have felt a sudden but brief discombobulation while your brain worked to correct its temporary mismatch with your body’s sense of movement. Laura Prosser, PhD, PT, is trying to induce a similar reaction to rehabilitate children after stroke.
As a research scientist in the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Prosser’s work is focused on how the brain and its connection to the body change after damage and during rehabilitation. Her focus on children addresses an under-researched area in rehabilitation.
“Understanding how rehabilitation can impact neuroplasticity is the most exciting aspect of this research to me,” Dr. Prosser said. “Not much of this work has been done in children. At CHOP we are in a unique position to understand how the brains of children respond differently to rehabilitation than the brains of adults who have had an injury.”
Dr. Prosser is now conducting a small pilot study testing physical therapy outcomes after pediatric stroke using high-tech tools including a split-belt treadmill and brain-stimulating technology called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). She aims to learn which approaches seem most promising to pursue in future larger trials.