Kessler Foundation Press Releases

Guang Yue, PhD, of Kessler Foundation awarded NIH grant for cancer rehabilitation research

2014-10-06 11:09:00 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

5-year grant funds study of high-effort motor training in cancer patients with muscle weakness

West Orange, NJ. October 6, 2014.  Guang Yue, PhD, of Kessler Foundation has been awarded an NIH grant for$1,962,767 to study the impact of high-effort training on the muscle weakness that impairs quality life among many individuals with cancer.  Dr. Yue is the Foundation’s director of Human Performance & Engineering Research. This 5-year RO1 grant will enable him to pursue his preliminary findings that indicate that high-effort combined with low-intensity muscle exercise training can significantly improve muscle strength in women with breast cancer.   

Weakness limits mobility and diminishes quality of life in many cancer survivors, especially in those with late-stage cancer.  Participating in high-intensity strength training is difficult and unsafe in patients with limited physical abilities.  Recent evidence in healthy adults shows that training with high effort (intended muscle contraction) combined with minimal physical exercise increases brain-to-muscle command, which helps improve motor unit recruitment and activation level resulting in muscle strengthening (a motor unit is consisted of a motor neuron in the spinal cord and muscle fibers it controls).  These observations led Dr. Yue and colleagues to hypothesize that training-induced voluntary strength gain relies on level of effort rather than the intensity of physical exercise.

“Our major goal is to test this hypothesis by training women with breast cancer-related weakness using high effort plus moderate intensity exercise vs low effort combined with moderate intensity muscle exercise,” said Dr. Yue. “Using strength testing and specialized EEG and neuroimaging techniques, we will look at the effects on handgrip strength and the level of functional brain-to-brain and brain-to-muscle connectivity that modulates maximal muscle force.  What we discover about voluntary muscle strengthening is likely to be applicable to other patient populations or frail older adults who suffer muscle weakness.”

Funded by NIH grant 1R01CA189665-01A1

About Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation
The mission of Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation is to improve mobility, independence and quality of life for individuals with motor and sensory deficits caused by neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. Researchers develop methods to restore mobility, recover function and control or alleviate fatigue. Physical training, robotic technology, functional electrical stimulation, electrophysiology, imaging and metabolic measurements are among the tools or therapies utilized. Researchers are affiliated with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and New Jersey Institute of Technology.  

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain, spinal cord and muscles. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

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