Neurodevelopmental and Rehabilitation Research
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu
The Maitre Lab team focuses on the neurodevelopment of high-risk infants and rehabilitation of their long-term disabilities. Our research emphasizes the development of objective and quantitative measures of sensory and motor function in infants and children. We utilize these measures to design novel therapeutic strategies for infants and young children who suffer from neonatal neural insults.
Our lab has developed a novel technique to measure response to light touch in children with disabilities. We have also established paradigms measuring cortical function in response to speech sound in preterm infants. For the past several years, we have worked with a team of scientists, engineers and therapists to conduct clinical trials of neural-based rehabilitative therapies in children and infants.
Featured in the News
Study Shows Early Touch Has Lasting Effects on Babies
New research from the Maitre Lab, featured on the TODAY Show, shows the power of touch and the special impact it may have for preterm infants. The study was published in the March 2017 issue of Current Biology and is titled, "The Dual Nature of Early-Life Experience on Somatosensory Processing in the Human Infant Brain."
Current Research Projects
The APPLES project (A Positive Parent-focused training for upper Limb Experience with Sensory-motor feedback) is a research study of soft constraint therapy for sensory/motor impairment in cerebral palsy with infants and young toddlers. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder resulting from sensory and motor impairments due to perinatal brain injury, with lifetime consequences that range from poor adaptive and social function to communication and emotional disturbances. Infants with CP have a fundamental disadvantage in recovering motor function: they do not receive accurate sensory feedback from their movements, leading to developmental disregard.
This photo shows an APPLES Study constraint participant crawling in a session with Helen Carey, PT, DHS.
Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy is one of the few effective neurorehabilitative strategies shown to improve upper extremity motor function in adults and older children with CP, potentially overcoming developmental disregard.
Sensory Processing and Neurodevelopment in NICU Infants
Disruptions to normal brain development place critically ill and preterm infants cared for in the NICU at risk for poor developmental outcomes, with sensory systems such as hearing and touch being particularly vulnerable. Deficits in the processing of auditory information can have cumulative detrimental effects on the acquisition of language skills and learning by school age.
Our goal is to address the lack of quantitative tools to measure sensory function in NICU infants in order to allow earlier prediction of developmental outcomes and rational design of neuroprotective strategies.