Limb difference research in my own backyard

by Jen Lee Reeves on February 14, 2013 · 4 comments

in 2013, Research

The Frey Laboratory at the University of Missouri is looking for additional amputees to take part in brain research.There are moments where you have to wonder how the heck it all worked out the way it worked out.

Remember back in the fall when Jordan had a chance to meet Hayden Filson? Well, their meeting was in the newspaper. That’s when a researcher in Columbia, MO reached out to me and wondered if I’d like to learn more about his lab. He does research on how the brain interacts with hands. In my town. 10 minutes away from my house.


His research has the potential of helping lead to better devices and understanding of how the brain learns and adjusts when a person’s body is non-typical. Dr. Scott Frey is the director of the Brain Imaging Center & Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, also known as the Frey Laboratory. Frey and his are looking for ways to take years of research on the brain and see if there are practical applications to those lessons learned.

One of the most fascinating discoveries: There are zones of the brain that manage the hands. The right side of the brain works with the left hand and the left side of the brain works with the right hand. If a person does not have a right or left hand, the brain doesn’t just leave that space empty… the brain uses it to focus on amplifying other skills. In some cases, other parts of the body have heightened senses… including the sensitivity of touch on your face.

The Frey Laboratory moved from Oregon to the University of Missouri to take advantage of the school’s medical and engineering schools. The hope is to take this research and not just let it sit inside academic journals. The researchers hope to take the research and work with the university’s medical school and engineering department to create tangible therapies and potential devices that help improve the lives of people with limb differences. There’s a room full of hydraulics and magnets and computers where they researchers are even looking at ways to help deal with phantom pain.

I’m thrilled to see this kind of work and even more thrilled to let you know that the researchers are looking for adults with limb differences to help with their research. They have travel funds and even can offer a small stipend for your time. If you are interested in participating, please call the Frey Institute at 573-882-3866 or visit its website’s explanation of the team’s research. The lab is looking to work with anyone with a traumatic or congenital limb difference.

I look forward to following the efforts of Dr. Scott Frey and his team… who are working on research that might help Jordan and so many others just 10 minutes away!

Here are some additional pictures from my visit:

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