A*Midex International Project - Launch of "PhantomTraining" collaborative project, coordinated by Jozina De Graaf, with Switzerland

Projet PhantomTraining de Jozina De Graaf

The PhantomTraining project labeled by the A*Midex Foundation under the "International 2018" call, started its activities in November 2019. The project brings together a team from Aix-Marseille and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Switzerland's leading hospital.


The project led by Dr. Jozina De Graaf, Maître de conférences of Aix-Marseille Université, was selected on 18 March 2019 by the Steering Committee of the A*Midex Foundation as part of the "International 2018" call for projects of A*Midex. This call aims to structure and strengthen the international cooperation of Aix-Marseille Université and the A*Midex partners through the support to international research, development and innovation projects with high strategic potential.
The project entitled "Neuroplasticity studied by multisensory and motor training of the phantom upper limb after amputation" (PhantomTraining) is an ambitious Franco-Swiss project in terms of generating new scientific knowledge in the field of health and clinical applications. The main scientific ambition of the project is to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms of neuroplasticity after limb amputation. The project will focus on two phantom phenomena in particular: phantom limb mobility and referred sensations, both of which are of particular interest for studying the reorganization of the central and peripheral nervous system after major body changes such as limb amputation. The innovative approach of this project is based on the quantification of the link between the phenomenology of the phantom limb (motor, multisensory and subjective aspects) and the cortical representations of the amputated limb. The comparison of subjective, behavioural and neurophysiological measures of phantom limb experience before and after mobility training will provide a unique data set to improve our understanding of brain-body interactions determined by plasticity. This research will also have important implications for the use of bi-directional prostheses, a growing field worldwide but so far limited to an experimental level mainly due to the lack of fundamental knowledge on neuroplasticity. With this project, Aix-Marseille is deepening its commitment to the field of neuroprosthesis and rehabilitation of amputees, an area that is heavily invested by leading research groups and companies in the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy, which will pave the way for future major international collaborations.

The project is being implemented at the Institut des Sciences du Mouvement - Etienne-Jules Marey (ISM) in Aix-Marseille (UMR AMU-CNRS), in conjunction with scientific teams from the Institut Régional de Réadaptation (IRR) in Nancy, university hospital for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (MPR) in Lorraine, France, and with the MySpace laboratory of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Switzerland, which provides important technological infrastructures and unique expertise (virtual reality, multisensory stimulation, physiological recordings, neuropsychology and neuroimaging).

PhantomTraining officially started on 1 November 2019 for a duration of 24 months. Over this period, the project will be supported by the A*Midex Foundation with a grant of 129,000 euros.
Ms. De Graaf has previously benefited from support from the Région Sud-PACA (France), the CNRS (France), and from an ANR (France) project, to start this project, especially to start the collaboration with the IRR.

crédits photos:  Dr. Michel Akselrod

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