Biomedical Undergraduate Wins At NJEN Competition

Every year, the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Network (NJEN) provides the entrepreneurial community with an evening of posters, networking and information at Princeton University.  Those providing posters can introduce their businesses to important contacts among New Jersey's research universities, small and large businesses, potential funding sources and professional services providers. This year, Sahitya Allam, B.S. Biomedical Engineering, Freshman in Accelerated Medical Program, Class of 2017 won the best presentation prize.  She presented a poster entitled " A New Therapy for Individuals with ADHD and ADHD-DCD.  In the photo below Sahitya is describing her work to Katherine O'Neill of Jumpstart NJ Angel Network.

Here is a description of her project.

My project deals with the stimulation of the otoliths, which consist of a pair of organs in the inner ear that sense gravity and linear acceleration, on the fine motor control of individuals with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It is surmised that the otoliths are connected via neurons (brain cells) to a part of the brain where there are also connections sent to antigravity muscles throughout the body. Therefore, the otoliths may play a part in regulating the movement of those muscles, which is often different for individuals with ADHD, especially in the context of fine motor movement. In order to test this assumption, I will be using the vertical stimulation chair in the Foulds lab to shake the subjects, using a protocol that will be based off of the one used for Dr. Foulds's cerebral palsy subjects, and then testing their performance on a graphomotor task (e.g. writing, drawing, anything that involves the hands). When they perform these tasks, I will be recording certain movement parameters, like force, acceleration, and jerk, using hand sensors and a digitizing tablet. I will most likely also be plotting the electrical activity in the muscles during these tasks by taking an EMG (electromyography) recording. Afterwards, I will compile all the data into a movement analysis model using the MATLAB program to understand whether vertical stimulation of the otoliths had any effect on the ADHD subjects, both in the short term and in the long term. This project could potentially be very useful in determining if there is another route to treating ADHD, one that does not use pills such as methylphenidate. In fact, it could open a whole new discussion into the treatment of neurodevelopment disorders that asks if treating an individual's sense of balance is one method to alleviating symptoms of the disorder.