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Research project: Assessing muscle tone in patients with neurological conditions

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Stroke and Parkinson’s disease are two common neurological disorders in which increased muscle tone can severely restrict a person’s ability to carry out functional activities. Muscle tone is difficult to assess accurately and simply outside the laboratory in clinical settings. A robust method that is objective, accurate and reliable for assessing changes in muscle tone in response to treatment is therefore needed. A relatively new technology offers an opportunity to assess muscle using a hand-held device, known as the MyotonPRO.

Myoton device

The overall aim is to investigate the ability of the MyotonPRO device to measure changes in mechanical properties of muscles in response to physical therapeutic techniques (rather than assess effectiveness of interventions per se).

This project has several phases, aiming to:

  1. Educate and support clinical physiotherapists to use the MyotonPRO device to assess muscle health to inform their treatment of neurological patients and monitor their progress
  2. Examine the feasibility of using the MyotonPRO device in a clinical setting in Africa (Ghana)
  3. Identify and resolve any practical or technical difficulties in applying this technology in a clinical setting to ensure the usability of the MyotonPRO device, through feedback from clinicians and patients, with the aid of technical support from the manufacturer.
  4. Train and support the clinicians to document their use of the MyotonPRO device in a structured way, through service evaluation / audits / research, as appropriate, to form a sound basis for future collaborative research by providing proof of concept of the clinical effectiveness of the device.
  5. Examine reliability of recordings made by physiotherapists and doctors in clinical settings, compared with findings in the literature, obtained in a more controlled research environment.
  6. Measure the effects of physiotherapy and medical treatments for managing muscle tone, by recording tone using the MyotonPRO before and after routine clinical interventions.
  7. Enable the clinicians to broaden engagement within their professions (physiotherapy and medicine) by supporting them as clinicians pioneering this objective method of measuring muscle health in neurological patients.

The research team in Ghana at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and University of Ghana, is led by two physiotherapists specialising in stroke (Cynthia Osei Yeboah) and Parkinson’s disease (Mary Agoriwo) and a Consultant Neurologist (Dr Albert Akpalu).

This project has evolved from the Southampton Myoton Research Programme, which has established the robustness of Myoton technology in various muscles, including evidence of reliability (Mullix et al 2012; Agyapong-Badu et al 2013), the effects of ageing (Agyapong-Badu et al 2016) and practical considerations in using the technique (Agyapong-Badu et al 2018).

The Southampton Myoton Programme also involves a study of astronauts (the Myotones Project) to monitor their muscle health while in space

Associated research themes

Active Living Theme

Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation

Funder: Science & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), University of Southampton 

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