To end volunteer week, Katy Styles, who is a Campaigns contact for the East Kent Development Group of the MND Association, blogs about her and her husband Mark’s experience of volunteering to take part in the Biomarker’s in Oxford (BioMOx) study.
It started as an innocuous question following a neurology appointment at the Oxford MND Care Centre, Mark and I asked “Now what can we do for you?”
Following a phone call and some form filling, Mark and I had volunteered to take part in Dr Martin Turner’s BioMOx Project. Mark as a person with MND and me as a control of the same age.
We didn’t know what to expect as we were scheduled to take part in two days worth of tests, which included two scans and a written test. In between time in the scanners however, we were able to enjoy everything Oxford has on offer.
Mark and I spent the first afternoon in the MEG scanner. Apparently there are only 8 of these in the UK. It was like an MRI scanner but instead of lying down in it you sit with the scanner coming down around your head – like an old-fashioned salon hair dryer you would have seen in the 50s! You have electrodes taped to your arms, face and head. These record your eye movements and finger movements. You are then asked to follow an arrow on the screen, if it points left you lift your left index finger, up and down on a LED control pad, but only if the next light is green. If red you don’t move. Not as easy as it sounds I can assure you! This test was looking at changes in the brain in response to thinking and action.
Whilst waiting for our time in the scanner, we were both given cognitive ability tests. Luckily in the car going up to Oxford we had practiced counting down in 7s from 100!
The second day was time in the MRI scanner. I had an extra test with a different set of coil and helmet, whilst in the scanner. This was to measure different chemical changes in the brain, over the whole brain. You have to keep still and preferably awake. Amazingly Mark fell asleep during his scan, but he could sleep standing up so I wasn’t surprised! I have had scans before and knew the drill, which is why I got to do more.
The researchers were lovely and put us at our ease throughout, and it was a real pleasure to help and be involved in something so worthwhile.
Now you know what to expect if you ever ask that same question of your neurologist, or are thinking of taking part in BioMOx.
Dr Martin Turner has written an update on his BioMOx project, which he posted for our ‘blog a day’. Read it here.
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