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Medical Imaging

September 2020 - September 2024

Motor training is a crucial component of neurorehabilitation for patients with motor deficits as it may be able to enhance recovery through brain plasticity and could remedy the primary causes of motor impairment. To get an early and accurate diagnosis of motor disability and guide the planning of rehabilitation programs, it is important to understand the nature and extent of brain damage, to identify the damaged areas that can be adaptively recruited, those that remain beyond recovery and those which can predict motor recovery before improvements in motor function occur. Modern neuroimaging techniques, in particular diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI), have the potential to further our understanding of the link between brain structure and motor recovery.

Recent advances in brain microstructure estimation from DW-MRI obtained at ICTEAM, jointly with teams at the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and Harvard Medical School, offer new ways to assess plastic changes in the damaged brain. These advanced mathematical models of the DW-MRI signal hold the promise of characterizing the brain white matter at the micrometer level, providing indices reflective of the morphometry of axons, myelin sheaths and glial cells. These novel approaches have the potential to provide more specific insights into the structural alterations of the brain underpinning (a) motor impairments and (b) the response to therapy, with the promise of developing predictive biomarkers to guide neurorehabilitation.