McNair Scholar 2018 Samantha Mussehl

Samantha Mussehl is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, majoring in kinesiology. Her research interests revolve around physiological changes occurring post-stroke or other traumatic brain or spinal injury. Ms. Mussehl plans on getting a dual degree as a Doctorate of Physical Therapy and Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences.

Samantha Mussehl headshot
My dream is to bring deeper understanding to the topic of the physiologic changes that occur after a neurodegenerative disease and help remodel the current physical therapy approach to reverse damage as much as possible.

Research project

Innervation Status in Soleus Muscle Post Hemorrhagic Stroke

Abstract: Introduction: Stroke is a neurologic condition that results in greater weakness in one side of the body. Little is known about the muscle related factors that contribute to this weakness. The aim of this study was to evaluate evidence of innervation loss to muscle cells in rats after stroke. Methods: Digital images of soleus muscles were obtained from four groups: (control, 2week & 4week; post-stroke, 2week & 4week). Images were analyzed for number of small angulated fibers, an indicator of muscle denervation. The stroke data was then compared to the control group using t-tests. Results: When comparing stroke versus control there were no differences at 2 weeks, but stroke counts were greater than control at 4 weeks. Conclusion: Results indicate evidence of denervation not appearing until 4 weeks. This new knowledge will influence our ability to provide optimal rehabilitation treatment to persons who have suffered from stroke.

Faculty mentor

Dr. LeAnn Snow is an assistant professor in the Division of Physical Therapy in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Snow graduated from Medical School at the University of Minnesota in 1976. She completed a residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and obtained a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota in 2004. Her research specializes in effects of exercise on nerve and muscle function in neuromuscular disorders. Snow is published in multiple research journals and has presented her work at conferences nationwide. This is Dr. Snow’s first year as a McNair faculty mentor.