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Vienna Medical Association awards research promotion prize to Konstantin Bergmeister

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(Vienna, 20 December 2019) Vienna Medical Association has awarded its Research Promotion Prize 2019 to Konstantin Bergmeister for his paper "Peripheral nerve transfers change target muscle structure and function", which has been published in the leading journal "Science Advances" (Impact Factor 12.8). The prize is awarded annually for excellent scientific achievements by doctors researching in Vienna.

Surgical nerve transfers are already being used very successfully in the reconstruction of peripheral nerve damage and to improve control of bionic prostheses. However, up until now, very little was known about the muscle changes that occur following this procedure and, hence, about further opportunities for improvement. In collaboration with colleagues from the UK and Canada, Konstantin Bergmeister has conducted an experimental study of the neurophysiological effects of this modern therapy and has found that much more precise muscle control is possible than was previously thought. Following the procedure, the target muscle takes on the physiological identity of the donor nerve and can therefore generate signals that resemble its original function. This can be used, for example, to create the specific properties of hand muscles even in residual stump muscles such as the biceps, so as to provide optimum control signals for the manual functions of a prosthesis. This therefore bring us one step closer to the vision of an intuitively controlled prosthesis that can replicate all the functions of a hand. Moreover, with this knowledge, nerve transfers can be used even more selectively in the treatment of neuroparalysis, spasticity following a stroke or facial nerve paresis.

The study was conducted as a joint international project with Imperial College London and partners at MedUni Vienna.

About Konstantin Bergmeister
Konstantin Bergmeister has been a research assistant in Oskar Aszmann's Clinical Laboratory for Bionic Limb Reconstruction since 2013. This is also where he obtained his PhD on the Clinical Neuroscience programme in 2015. For his clinical training, he works as a junior doctor at the Division of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery under Klaus Schrögendorfer at St. Pölten University Hospital. Before that, he worked at the Department of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Severe Burns Unit, at BG - Unfallklinik Ludwigshafen under Ulrich Kneser from 2016 – 2018. He is married to Anna Bergmeister-Berghoff and likes to run marathons in his spare time. 

"Peripheral nerve transfers change target muscle structure and function." K. D. Bergmeister, M. Aman, S. Muceli, I. Vujaklija, K. Manzano-Szalai, E. Unger, R. A. Byrne, C. Scheinecker, O. Riedl, S. Salminger, F. Frommlet, G. H. Borschel, D. Farina, O. C. Aszmann, Sci. Adv. 5, eaau2956 (2019).