ASU-Mayo research project targets carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis

August 5, 2013

Improved diagnosis for people afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome – one of the most common disorders of the hand – is the goal of a research collaboration led by an Arizona State University biomedical engineering faculty member and a Mayo Clinic physician.

Marco Santello and Mark Ross were recently awarded a grant of $93,000 from Mayo’s Center for Regenerative Medicine to advance their effort to quantify the effects of carpal tunnel release surgery on patients’ recovery of sensorimotor hand function. Santello Neural Control Lab Download Full Image

Santello is a professor and director of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Ross is a professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic Arizona.

They hope results of the project will lead to continued funding of their research by the National Institutes of Health. Their collaboration, supported for the past five years by the institute, has revealed new knowledge about the effects of sensorimotor deficits caused by carpal tunnel syndrome on grasp control.

The new project focuses on a gap in the understanding of the effects of carpal tunnel release surgery, specifically the interaction of various factors that determine the extent of recovery of sensorimotor hand function after surgery.

Also known as carpal tunnel decompression surgery, the procedure involves dividing the transverse carpal ligament that runs across the hand so that the ligament no longer presses down on the nerves inside the hand, thus relieving debilitating pressure.

Findings by Santello and Ross to date have shown that carpal tunnel syndrome affects a variety of complex and subtle aspects of sensorimotor function. In the new project they will use a novel application of grasp testing they have developed to closely measure recovery of the function following surgery.

It is hoped the grasp tests can be used to help provide a way to more precisely measure functional recovery and enable early detection if a patient is not recovering as expected, the researchers say.

Beyond that advance, Santello and Ross intend to use the grasp tests to provide quick, simple, noninvasive and inexpensive quantification of patients’ progress in recovery from pre-operative nerve injury after carpal tunnel release surgery.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


President Obama nominates ASU professor to key nuclear post

August 5, 2013

President Barack Obama announced his nomination of Kenneth L. Mossman, an Arizona State University professor of health physics and an international expert in radiation health and safety, to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board on July 31.

The board is a small executive branch agency (five members) with safety oversight of all nuclear weapons facilities in the U.S. It acts as an independent agency to identify the nature and consequences of potential threats to public health and safety at the Department of Energy’s defense nuclear facilities, to elevate such issues to the highest levels of authority and to inform the public. It makes recommendations on matters of safety to the Secretary of Energy and to the President. Download Full Image

“I am excited about working with other Presidential appointees on the board and the very talented civil servants who carry out the work of the board,” Mossman said. “I have always had a strong commitment to giving back, particularly to institutions that have contributed to my success. This Presidential appointment is another way of giving back. Other than teaching there is no greater calling than government service in the public interest.”

Mossman has published widely on topics such as biological effects of low and high dose x-, gamma and neutron radiation; radiation exposure during pregnancy; the health effects of radon; and radiation protection and public policy. His current research includes nuclear regulatory science and policy, and managing small risks, as well as risk perception and risk communication.

Mossman has held his current position as professor of health physics at ASU since 1990. He is also an administrative judge for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, where he has served since 2008.  

From 1997 to 2004, Mossman was director of the University Office of Radiation Safety at Arizona State University, and from 1990 to 1992 he served as the University’s assistant vice president for research. Previously, he was a professor at Georgetown University’s Medical Center (1973 to 1990), and he was the founding chairman of the Department of Radiation Science at the Georgetown Graduate School (1982 to 1990).

Mossman received a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University, a master's and doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee and a master's of education from the University of Maryland.

Mossman’s Senate confirmation process is expected to begin this fall.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications