Hundza, Sandra



Phone number: (250) 721-8387
Department: Biomedical Research

Research description:

-Neural control of human movement and motor rehabilitation with aging and after injury and disease
-Neural control of balance during walking and coordination of limbs and trunk during rhythmic movement
-Assistive devices and technologies for mobility and mobility measurement

Expertise Profile
"Over 30 percent of people over the age of 65 experience a fall," says Sandra Hundza, a neuroscientist in the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education. She adds that many of these falls are associated with major injuries such as hip fractures, which can significantly impact quality of life, and exact a huge cost on the health care system.

Dr. Hundza studies how the human nervous system controls walking and balance, and how this neural control is altered as we age or if there is damage from a neurological condition such as a stroke or Parkinson's. As someone who worked clinically as a physiotherapist before starting her research career, she is particularly interested in maintaining and retraining functional ability for walking and balance.

Her goal is to enhance or develop new therapies to improve our ability to prevent falls in these vulnerable populations. At the same time, she seeks to improve their mobility and quality of life.

To help identify those at risk of falling, Sandra Hundza studies the interaction between motor control and cognitive control in younger people, older adults and adults at risk of falling. She measures how each person's muscles respond to trip stimulus mimicked with electrical stimulation and determines the relationship between their physical function and ability to perform different cognitive tasks. It helps her understand how people's cognitive control and motor control work together. Using that information, Dr. Hundza and her team can evaluate the effect of current training interventions and see how the nervous system has adapted.

Dr. Hundza has found that by incorporating some simple technologies, we can more precisely identify those who are at risk of falling, and she is hopeful this will lead to new clinical tools for preventing future falls. Dr. Hundza's study of neuromechanics also applies to recreation and elite sport as it relates to performance and injury prevention. "Some of this is just learning about the science of how the body works and the technologies that can support this," she says, "and some of it is about how we care for older adults in the community and decrease the cost of care for older adults."

Related Links
Dr. Hundza's Faces of UVic Research video:

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