18th Annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium

NMPT Poster Session
Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium Poster Session on Thursday, March 23 at the Powell University House.

The University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions Department of Physical Therapy held its 18th annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium. The symposium consisted of a research poster session, plenary lectures, and data blitz presentations from T32 trainees.

The poster session was held on Thursday, March 23 at the Earl and Christy Powell University House, where undergraduate, doctoral and postdoctoral trainees presented their cutting-edge research. Students presented their research throughout the afternoon while faculty members from the Department of Physical Therapy judged and offered their feedback.

Winners of the poster session were announced on Friday, March 24 following the plenary lectures at Emerson Alumni Hall. Congratulations to the winners of this year’s poster session:

Graduate Poster Winners

  • Kayla Burrowes (Mentor: Dr. Gordon Mitchell)- “Shorter Hypoxic and Inter-hypoxic Intervals Enhance Acute Intermittent Hypoxia-induced Phrenic Long-term Facilitation”
  • Katherine Buzzanca (Mentor: Dr. Jason Beneciuk) – “Multifactorial Framework for Persisting Symptoms after Concussion”
  • Branden Nguyen (Mentor: Dr. Ashley Smuder) – “Concomitant Exercise Training During Doxorubicin Treatment in Rodents”
  • Alyssa Terry (Mentor: Dr. Karen Hegland) – “Sensitivity and Specificity of Peak Cough Flow and Reflexive Cough Testing to Detect Dysphagia in ALS”

Postdoctoral Poster Winners

  • Tommy Sutor (Mentor: Dr. Emily Fox and Dr. Gordon Mitchell)- “Characterization of the Neuromuscular Drive to Breathe in Persons with Spinal Cord Injury”
  • Prajwal Thakre (Mentor: Dr. David Fuller) – “Spinal NMDA Receptor Activation is Necessary to Initiate but not Maintain Ampakine-hypoxia Induced Phrenic Motor Facilitation”
18th Annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium
18th Annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium Poster Winners (left to right): Tommy Sutor, Alyssa Terry, Branden Nguyen, Katherine Buzzanca, Kayla Burrowes, and Prajwal Thakre.

The plenary lectures and T32 presentations also took place on Friday, March 24 at Emerson Alumni Hall. Andrea Behrman, PhD, PT, FAPTA, professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Louisville was one of the symposium plenary lecturers and presented on, “Never Underestimate the Spinal Cord.” Dr. Behrman’s research focus is to develop and test therapeutic interventions promoting recovery after spinal cord injury in children and adults capitalizing on activity-dependent neuroplasticity and an understanding of the neurobiology of walking and motor control. Behrman is the director of the Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery and co-director of the Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network.

Andrea Behrman, PhD, PT, FAPTA

Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Louisville

Dr. Andrea Behrman giving one of the keynote presentations at the NMPT symposium.

Jane Kent, PhD, Director of the Muscle Physiology Lab and the Kinesiology Department Chair at UMass Amherst, was also the symposium lecturer and presented on the topic, “Muscle Fatigue and Mobility Function in Aging.” Dr. Kent’s primary interest is in the area of human skeletal muscle function and fatigue. In particular, her work examines the mechanisms of fatigue, and how these vary depending upon age, gender, chronic health status, and habitual physical activity level. A related interest is an examination of the influence that fatigue has on functional capacity.

Jane Kent, PhD

Director of the Muscle Physiology Lab and Chair of the Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Dr. Jane Kent giving the second keynote presentation at the NMPT Symposium.

T32 Trainee Presentations

T32 trainees in the Neuromuscular Plasticity Training (NMPT) and the Breathing Research and Therapeutics (BREATHE) Training Programs presented a six minute “data-blitz” and fielded questions and feedback regarding their research following the plenary sessions. The T32 Neuromuscular Plasticity Training Program, is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research and is a pre-doctoral training program which emphasizes the interaction and joint training of rehabilitation clinicians and basic scientists with a common interest in translational research in neuromuscular plasticity. The Breathe Research and Therapeutics (BREATHE) Training Program, also funded by the NIH, combines strength in basic science and translational research to educate pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees to develop a unique cohort of researchers with strong foundations in respiratory neuromuscular biology and translational research.