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Data strongly suggests that the brain controls exercise capacity

Vagal determinants of exercise capacity A joint study by researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol suggests that the brain controls exercise capacity, a highly novel idea with ramifications for health in the general population as well as elite athletes.

The study, published in Nature Communications, used both human and non-human models to determine vagus health and non-human models where novel neuroscience techniques were used to activate or inhibit the activity of the vagus nerve.

Dr Gareth Ackland from QMUL’s William Harvey Research Institute said: “Previously, activity of the vagus nerve was deemed to just reflect how fit people were. This study suggests however that the vagus nerve controls fitness, rather than just being a marker.

“Because it demonstrates a new measure of how fit we are, and shows that a range of diseases implicating reduced vagus nerve activity may specifically benefit from exercise. The technology we used is also the first demonstration that remote control of nerves may improve exercise performance.”
 

Further information 

Research paper: ‘Vagal determinants of exercise capacity', by Ackland G, et al. Nature Communications.

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Critical Care & Perioperative Medicine Research Group - Team profiles

Anna Gutierrez

Ana Gutierrez del Arroyo
Ana is a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow.  She obtained her PhD in 2000 in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University Autonoma, Madrid. This explored the mechanism of p53-induced apoptosis in lymphocytes and the use of chemotherapeutic drugs in cancer treatments. Postdoctoral work includes cellular senescence and cell cycle regulation at London Cancer Research Institute (former ICRF; Gordon Peters laboratory); mechanisms of Myeloproliferative disorders and Sepsis Induced Immunoparesis at UCL, and organ dysfunction perioperative Medicine at UCL/QMUL.

 

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Path Feel ®

Path Feel ® - towards the validation of haptic feedback from smart embedded equipment to improve the gait of people with pronator feet.

Pronation is the flattening of the foot which happens during the walk when the foot rolls inward. In this case a large weight is transferred to where it should not be. This results in a destabilization that will affect the biomechanical efficiency of the kinematics of knee and hip.

 

We propose to evaluate a new in-shoe combined pressure monitoring and feedback system: Path Feel®. Developed by the multidisciplinary team of Walk with Path Ltd, the insoles will be tested in a clinically relevant scenario to correct the foot position. Gathering incoming and outgoing data, Path Feel aims at providing stimuli at the exact moment you need it during the walk. Vibrations influence the posture and could also change the gait pattern if they are applied under the feet. The basic idea is to increase the natural feedback received by the feet once they are applied on the floor to change the walk-style in daily routine. We took the case of the pronation which is, at the same time, common and harmful, and we will study whether the vibrating insoles can influence the foot position or not. Over-pronation of the foot is among the most common movement dysfunctions of the lower extremity that may affect the position of ankles, knees and hips during weight bearing, and lead to overuse injury. Resultant gait disorders and musculoskeletal injuries are major problems in active populations. Orthotics to influence foot motion are often used as an orthopaedic treatment, however, interventions that provide real time, step-by-step foot posture feedback are lacking.

 

Methods

Methodology

For the purpose of this study, we will use force plates, Delsys wireless EMG and Codamotion system to record the different biomechanical features which could be affected by the insoles wearing. Participants will be asked to attend the human performance lab (HPL) on a specified day to enable us to collect data. We hypothesise that vibratory feedback can influence gait pattern in response to in-shoe pressure measures. Therefore, our null hypothesis is that people with the insoles turned off, the insoles turned on and those with

To assess eligibility for the study prior to recruitment, interested subjects will be asked to undergo a clinical test (Foot Posture Index –FPI-) to determine the prono-supination model of their feet. At the end of the trial, it will be asked to fulfil a survey provided by the supporting company. These will be used to access appropriateness for participation and the importance of their foot deviation. Eligible candidates will then be consented and provided with guidelines on how to prepare for the study. It will be requested to wear sandals and shorts or skirts to allow the investigators to put the markers on the naked skin of the lower limbs. The measure will be taken following a simple gait protocol for which they have to walk along a central walkway wherein their motion is captured by the Codamotion cameras. They will walk as usual, relaxed and on the force plates. Complementary to the Codamotion, EMG and force plates data, the insoles itself will record the pressure and the 3D acceleration thanks to captors placed in the insoles.out the insoles will not show any deference in the selected features.