Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Paul Wetzel


Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by patterned, repetitive, and sustained muscle contractions that cause ineffective and often painful movements. The overall goal of this project was to understand the physiological mechanisms of dystonia in a rodent model as a basis for developing innovative treatments for secondary dystonias. The first half of the project was focused at developing essential techniques for systematically investigating the movement disorder in these animals. For achieving this, an innovative, multi-faceted approach was pursued starting with electromyographic (EMG) analysis for animal model validation, gait analysis for dystonia quantification, and development of a novel stereotaxic apparatus for recording brain activity during awake conditions. The later half of the project was focused on understanding how brain circuitry produces abnormal motor control in dystonia. Single and multi-unit neuronal activity was collected from individual basal ganglia nuclei along with EMG recordings to characterize the abnormal patterns of firing in dystonic animals and determine how neurons within individual nuclei communicate in dystonia, respectively. The findings of the current project have lead to new insights into the pathophysiology and treatment of secondary kernicteric dystonia and other secondary dystonia in humans.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2010