Cooperative hand movements: from basic sciences to clinical application Event as iCalendar

21 September 2018

12:30 - 1:30pm

Venue: Seminar Room 902-402

Location: Newmarket Campus

Host: Department of Exercise Sciences - Movement Neurosciences Laboratory

Contact info: Speaker : Dr Miriam Schrafl-Altermatt

Contact email:

Dr Miriam Schrafl-Altermatt, Visitor, Department of Exercise Sciences
Dr Miriam Schrafl-Altermatt


Cooperative hand movements which are defined as bimanual movements with a force transfer between the hands over an object and the hands counteracting each other’s force.

Activities of daily living are very often cooperative, e.g. opening a bottle of jar, peeling a carrot, slicing bread, grinding pepper, screwing a nut into a bolt or pumping a bike tire. These movements have moved into focus due to their unique neurophysiological characteristics.

During the performance of cooperative movements, there is an enhanced neural coupling of the arms. This is shown as bilateral reflex responses following unilateral peripheral nerve stimulations and increased ipsilateral SSEPs.

In people who have suffered from a stroke, this neural coupling mechanism is usually partly preserved and leads to an increase of motor control from the unaffected hemisphere over the ipsilateral, affected arm.

These findings led to developing a new training approach for neuro-rehabilitation after stroke focusing on cooperative hand movements. Preliminary data of chronic stroke patients has been very promising and will be followed up by a randomized clinical trial in patients with sub-acute stroke.

About our speaker

Dr Miriam Schrafl-Altermatt got her master’s degree in human Movement Sciences and Sport at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

During her PhD at ETH Zurich, Dr. Schrafl-Altermatt investigated the neural mechanism controlling cooperative hand movements and in how far this mechanism is impaired after stroke. She developed a new device for training of cooperative upper limb movements.

She joined the Neural Control of Movement Lab at ETH Zurich in 2016 as a postdoctoral researcher continuing to study the mechanisms controlling cooperative hand movements with a special interest on the somatosensory aspect as well as translating the knowledge into clinical application.

Dr. Schrafl-Altermatt moved to Auckland in 2018 to work at the Movement Neuroscience Laboratory focusing more on the efferent pathways involved in the neural control of cooperative hand movements.

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