MONDAY, November 14, 2005
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
CAB 657

Lora Major
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Alberta

Computational Simulation of Electrodiagnostic Methods

Electrodiagnostic medicine is a globally practiced field of clinical investigation that uses the bioelectric activity produced in nerve and muscle tissue to gain insight into the pathophysiology of many diseases. One application of the technology is motor unit number estimation (MUNE). The purpose of a MUNE exam is to indirectly count the number of surviving motor units in disorders which affect the motor neurons. These disorders include the both hereditary, spinal muscular atrophies and motor sensory neuropathy, as well as acquired disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an adult-onset neurological disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of motor neurons. It is hoped that new drugs or drug cocktails will be discovered that can slow or even stop the progression of the disease. A carefully designed MUNE exam may become the objective measure needed to screen for drug efficacy.

There are a wide range of alternative electrophysiological methods designed to count the number of functional motor units in a muscle. While the clinical practitioners of MUNE agree that each method has distinct advantages and disadvantages, there is no "gold standard" to assess the competing methods. This research attempts address the need for a gold standard by combining the known physiological and anatomical details of the human neuromuscular system into a quantitative bioelectric model. Since the number of motor units in the model is known, this value can be compared to the estimates generated by computer simulations of the competing MUNE methods, giving a tangible measure of their accuracy.

Refreshments will be served following the seminar from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in CAB 549