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NeuroRehabilitation Unit (NRU)

About us

Welcome to the Neurorehabilitation Unit (NRU). My name is Professor Duncan Turner and I am the Director of the NRU. Our expertise is in Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurorehabilitation Sciences. I hope you find the information helpful in choosing to become involved in our work.

We utilize advanced medical devices such as deep brain stimulators and assistive technologies such as robotics to enhance motor and cognitive skills following acquired brain injury or whilst living with neurodegenerative diseases. Feel free to see how we are achieving our mission and you can contact us at d.l.turner@uel.ac.uk.

Our Mission

The main thrust of our work involves integrating medical devices and robotics with sophisticated brain imaging technologies and theoretical mathematical and neurocomputational modelling. We use this mixture of engineering and physical science disciplines in translational and clinical research programmes in healthy subjects and neurological patients within the NRU. 
This interdisciplinary approach offers an exciting insight into how clinical interventions may impact on brain anatomy and function. Pivotal to our approach is the fact that the brain is capable of a high degree of neuroplasticity throughout healthy ageing and in response to brain dysfunction. Our mission focuses on enabling and/or enhancing this brain flexibility to improve quality of life. 
 
To take advantage of the development of increasingly sophisticated devices and technologies in answering our questions we: 


 - Undertake clinical trials with NHS and non-NHS partners in the NIHR Clinical Research Network for the North Thames Region and with UK and global partners. 

 - Participate as a research hub in the UCL Partners Centre for Neurorehabilitation and perform groundbreaking research with international collaborators.

 - Offer knowledge exchange to develop products into clinical use with industry partners.

Feel free to see how we are achieving our mission in different health themes.

 

Health Themes

The NRU has developed three main Health Themes for improving quality of life through research and clinical trials. These are: 

- Acquired brain injury such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury 
- Neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor. 
- Enhancing brain function in natural ageing 

Many individuals with neurological deficits can fulfil greater potential by benefitting from a more integrated use of cutting-edge technologies and better understanding of brain dysfunction and repair.  
The aim of the NRU is to draw together research expertise from different academic/clinical specialties in neurorehabilitation into an interdisciplinary, ground-breaking force for change. 
The NRU has expertise in neuroscience, physiology, psychology, bioengineering, mathematics and rehabilitation medicine. This skills synergy significantly speeds up the translation of the understanding of brain plasticity towards clinical trials and interventions.  

Clinical Trials

The NRU has a mission to enhance the quality of life and potential of community members who live with central nervous system injury (CNS) by undertaking clinical trials. Such interventions can be designed for use early after brain injury (e.g. acute and subacute stages of recovery after stroke or traumatic brain injury), once the brain has recovered function somewhat (e.g. in chronic stages of stroke recovery) or in circumstances where the symptoms of brain injury have been present for some time or are progressive (e.g. Parkinson's disease).

Recent clinical trials have tested robot-assisted therapy; real-time neurofeedback of brain activity and vagal nerve stimulation for upper limb recovery after a stroke (see key publications). We are developing several trials asking whether we can improve on the placement of electrodes for deep brain stimulation and whether neurofeedback can benefit patients living with Parkinson's disease or essential tremor.

Smaller discovery trials ask how stroke survivors or Parkinson's patients can re-learn motor skills and whether there are biomarkers of brain function that can predict the level of re-learning.

We are also currently developing a research programme asking how well Parkinson’s disease patients walk in real-world scenarios and how the brain adapts to dealing with complicated multi-tasking. We are recruiting patients for our local movement disorders clinics in East London.

Publications

Contact us

The NRU has several locations where its work is in action.

Our base is the fully accessible NeuroRehabilitation Unit hosted by the School of Health, Sport and Bioscience, Stratford Campus, University of East London.

Here is a map of how to get there from Stratford transportation hubs:

Stratford Campus information including directions on getting here:

Stratford Campus Map

Email: d.l.turner@uel.ac.uk